“Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have” (Hebrews 13:5).
“But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we have brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content” (I Timothy 6:6-8).
The verses above were the topic of study for the Men’s Group that meets in my office every Friday morning. Since last Friday I have been pondering these verses. I fear that in the surrounding culture they are lost words. I fear at times, they are lost for many Christians, including myself. I know this, that every maker of consumer goods, every creator of electronic gadgets, every producer in the entertainment industry, hangs their hats on the fact that most people are far from being content with what they have.
Do we even know what the words mean? The best definition that I have found for the word content is enough. The word contentment is simply defined as satisfied. Take a moment to soak in those definitions, then take a moment to read and to re-read the verses from Hebrews and I Timothy. I’ll wait while you do this.
Paul told Timothy that if we have food, clothing, and shelter, with these we shall be content. When Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you” it was these things, the basic necessities of life to which He was speaking. The bottom line is this, if we have food, clothing, and a roof over our head, we have everything that God has promised. Now with that being said, how many of you have more than that? Are you content with what you have?
Often, our endless pursuit of things, our endless pursuit of more, is an unconscious attempt to scratch an itch that is a spiritual one. Somewhere in us there is a void, a longing, a need for fulfillment and meaning. If that itch, that longing, that need are rightly directed, if we do not come to understand that these longings are ultimately fulfilled in a relationship with Christ Jesus, we will spend ourselves silly chasing the latest gizmos and gadgets and fashions and stuff trying to scratch an endless itch. When is the last time you asked yourself, “Do I really need that?” When is the last time that you said no to the desire for more of the latest and greatest? One of the great virtues of scripture is that of self-denial and I am embarrassed to say that I cannot remember the last time I heard a sermon on the subject, out of my mouth or the mouth of another.
If our deepest longings are not being satisfied at the feet of Jesus, there is an endless array of advertisers that will haunt you with the latest and greatest thing designed to satisfy. Years ago I was told by an engineer from IBM that the moment a new electronic product rolls off the assembly line, it is already obsolete. For on the drawing board is the next step, the bigger, the better, the faster that will make what is in your pocket or on your desk yesterday’s old news. And heaven help us if we wind up a step or two behind the current trend.
Remember that the temptations we face in this life are rooted in the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, the boastful pride of life. Simply stated. “If it feels good do it.” “I must have one of those.” “Do you see me?” Every one of these are enemies of contentment.
Now, I am not saying that you need to jettison everything you have that rises above the basics of food, clothing, and shelter. But as Christians who claim to find their ultimate satisfaction and fulfillment in God, do we ever stop to consider when enough is enough? We live in a culture that says, “Enough is just a little bit more.” Is it?