Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Contentment


Contentment

 

But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.” – 1 Timothy 6:9

I know I’m not the only one.  There are a lot of us that watch the Super Bowl just to see the new commercials.  It’s like the pageant for the most entertaining commercials of the year!  This past weekend while watching and waiting for those commercials, something occurred to me.  We watch a LOT of commercials.  I did a little research and found that for the typical 1-hour TV show, we view 42-46 minutes of show and 14-18 minutes of commercials.  Think about that! That’s a long time!  Let’s say you watch four hours of TV a night.  You’ve sat through one full hour of commercials!
Is there any wonder why we feel we have to go out and buy the next big thing every time there is one?  We NEED the Swiffer Wet Jet.  We NEED the Ear Wax Vacuum.  We NEED the Double Burger with Jalapenos and Jack Cheese.  We NEED the new Dodge Dart.  We begin to believe the hype put in front of us that we do in fact NEED all these things, when really…we don’t!  We were content without all this “stuff” before we saw the commercials, so what changed?

We coveted.  Our desire was enticed, and by our own lusts we were lead to believe that we did in fact NEED the next big thing.  Desire, enticement, and lust - that’s how all sin begins (James 1:14).
Thou shall not covet (Exodus 20:17). It’s probably the most ignored commandment, especially here in the US where we have to supersize everything from our burgers to our credit limits!  And it’s not just television commercials pushing us down this path!  Count the number of catalogs, sale ads, and special offers that come to your mailbox.  Our mailboxes overrun with marketing propaganda every day!

The problem with coveting is that it leads us to value material things more than spiritual things.  It distracts us, and changes our focus.  It causes us to be discontent with what we have, ungrateful and wanting.  This is not God’s plan for His children.
Hebrews 13:5-6 says “5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” 

I’ve left the verse numbers in this passage purposely.  On first read, it seems “odd” that verse 6 follows verse 5.  Verse 5 tells us to be content with what we have, and that God will never leave us.  Then verse 6 tells us that we can be bold because God will help us, and we shouldn’t fear any man.  Hmm….could it be that we should see those that cause us to covet as a threat? If they were peddling anything else that would cause us to break from God’s will, enticing us to steal, commit adultery or murder for example, we would see it as a threat.  But we don’t see those that cause us to desire things as a threat because it seems so harmless.  That is, until….
Until you find yourself skipping family time and working extra hours to pay off credit card bills for things you don’t remember buying.

Until you find yourself arguing with your spouse about where your money went.
Until you find yourself unable to give to the church because you’re paying off your overdue bills.

Until you find that the desire to have and have more has consumed your days, determined your happiness, and alas, you find you just cannot attain enough to keep yourself happy.  And finally….you’re not happy!
As with any sin, you don’t see the full journey in the first step.  A simple little sale ad doesn’t seem like a threat.  An email from your favorite store doesn’t read “Caution: Continued shopping online can cause marital problems, lack of sleep, and result in slavery to your credit card debt.”

We have to lasso our lusts into contentment.  We have enough – we all do.  God provides for our needs.  Paul said in Philippians 4:11 “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content”. Contentment is a learning process and it only happens when we start denying ourselves the next big thing.  When everyone around us wears a new outfit, drives a new car, lives in a new house, and seems to have the best of everything, it is most definitely a learning process to become content!  We have to redefine our own self-worth and realize that our value, regardless of what the world says, is not in our material things.
Contentment comes from realizing that your spiritual blessings far outweigh your material goods.  When we value our eternal wealth over our earthly wealth, we overcome coveting.  1Timothy 6:6-9 says Now godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.  And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.” Those desires to be rich and have it all pull us away from God’s goals for our lives, our spiritual blessings and eternal wealth.  His word calls it “foolish and harmful” and says in the end, it drowns men “in destruction and perdition“.  Oh, they don’t tell you that in the commercials!  But God did.  He has your best interest at heart.  Keeping Him as your heart’s desire will give you contentment.

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