God has been working on me in the area of contentment recently. As I’ve considered the issue, I’ve begun to appreciate just how counter-cultural it is, flying in the face of every marketing campaign and our own ambitious natures.
When we were in Atlanta this summer, a few family members gave our kids some money. Instead of spending it immediately, their eyes got big as they pooled their new-found wealth and realized they had enough to buy one of the bigger Lego sets. My immediate reaction was, “How much Lego is enough?” They have so much Lego already. Why do they feel they need any more? Can’t they be content with what they have?
Like so many Christians before me, I can weaponize Scripture. I can sharpen 1 Timothy 6:6-10 and thrust it like a dagger:
But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
It took a few weeks before I felt my own conviction. I do the same thing, but not with Lego. At some point, my greed transferred to other, more adult fare: ambition, for instance. Ambition lacks contentment with current circumstances. Ambition always wants more.
Picture for a minute a tethered dog, or one contained within a fence. Where will the grass be well-worn? There will always be a well-worn track around the limits. I’m the same way; I always want more, I’m always looking beyond the space God has defined for me.
Psalm 131:1-2 pricks right to the heart:
O Lord, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
How do we quiet our souls? How do we find contentment? Hebrews 13:5 recommends shifting our desires.
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
In other words, God tells us, “All you need is me.” David agrees, as he closes out Psalm 131:
O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time forth and forevermore.
I hear David crying to my soul: “O Roy, hope in the Lord.” Yearn for Him, be content in Him. He never gets rusty, He never breaks down, He never goes out of fashion, He will never let you down, He will never leave you.
[This post republished from my President’s blog on Wycliffe.ca]
Roy – I have been pondering similar things. I’ve been studying lately about the Sabbath. Walter Brueggemann is a great source on this – he teaches from Scriptures that the Sabbath is a must for a society to break the constant effort for more (at the expense of others). The book I’m referring to is called Sabbath as Resistance. A great, somewhat short read.