My Dear Sister in Christ,
Solomon warned us about how futile this life seems when we do not factor God into our lives. It is It is easy to see the world in the sentiments that the “eye is not satisfied with seeing and the ear with hearing”. (Ecclesiastes 1:8) “If only I had…” “I’ll be happy when…” “Just wait until…” These are the seeds of discontent and if we are not careful they will rub off on us.
The question of contentment is a bit of a paradox. It is not always a good thing to be satisfied with the way things are. We need to feel motivated to make changes for the better in our lives. “Good enough” as a description of our spirituality is not adequate. Paul said he pressed on to become better because he was not perfect at his present level. (Philippians 3:12) None of us can claim to have met our full potential in Christ. We rely on the grace of God to continue to mold us into a clearer reflection of Our Lord so that we can glorify Him, not ourselves. (Ephesians 4:1)
While we should never be content with the good we think we may have done in the past, we should always be content with the good God has done for us. That is a matter of recognition and perspective. God has given us all we need. The rich may be tempted to think they are self-sufficient. The poor are reminded daily of their dependence. Which of these groups you believe you are in is determined by your contentment. When you recognize the sufficiency of what you have, you think yourself rich. When you focus on things you wish you had, you consider yourself poor. It is the proverbial case of complaining because your legs ache until you notice a man who has none.
Recognition of how rich you are makes you more willing to share the material blessings of this life with others. I have heard some say they would entertain more if only they had a better house in which to do it. They would take a meal to a sick family, but all they have are beans and cornbread. They would teach Bible classes, but they don’t really have time to spare. I have also known kind and gentle souls who are hospitable in humble surroundings, share joyfully the simple staples they have, and make the time in a full life to teach. Those individuals see their blessings instead of their wants and their gratitude prompts them to be generous with the abundance they perceive they have. If we do not use what we have faithfully, we should not expect God to give us more. (Luke 16:10-12)
Do not turn your nose up at the gifts God has given you. Your possessions and circumstances are as God sees you need them to be in order to serve Him. We identify with the warning in Proverbs 30:8,9 to “…give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.” The answer is actually not in what you do or do not have. It is in your attitude toward them both. Both rich and poor can be greedy and covetous. Both rich and poor can be righteous stewards of what God has given them.
We are reminded often not to be greedy and covetous for material possessions. These sinful attitudes apply to more than that. Wishing we were older, younger, married, a better teacher, had more friends, or even had more personal contacts to spread the Gospel is an exercise in discontent. All of these can be productive changes, but not if you waste your energy wishing things were different. Instead, use the abilities and opportunities you already have to do what you can at this point in your life. My prayer for you is to be content and productive right now.
Your loving friend,
“But godliness with contentment is great gain.’” 1 Timothy 6:6