Monday, February 27, 2006
The Beauty of Contentment
(This week's Carnival of Beauty is hosted by Bethany. To read the other posts highlighting the topic of contentment, go to A Picturesque Life)
Being content is a foreign concept in our market driven culture. I know. I struggle myself. A few years ago, I ordered my first item from one of the home shopping networks. When I saw how easily I could spend my money, I soon ordered more. Before long, I had brown packages piled up on my porch and spilling out of my mailbox nearly every day. I bought jewelry, clothing, and items for the house, my husband and children. My husband made the comment, “It’s like Christmas every day around here!”
After each jewelry order, I’d promise myself I wouldn’t order any more. I had enough – more than enough. Then the next sparkly bauble would dance across my television screen, and before I knew it, I’d placed another order.
In his letter to the Philippians, Paul shares his attitude concerning material things. He says, in verses 11-13, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”
When he wrote to the Philippians, Paul declared he was in chains for Christ. Even the palace guard had been witnessed to because of Paul’s bonds. He had spoken “courageously and fearlessly.” Paul experienced trials like nothing we have ever experienced - beatings, stoning, shipwreck, hunger, misunderstanding, and on top of it all, desertion, yet he had learned to be content.
Jesus said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21.)
Ouch! Oh, me! Contentment comes from establishing biblical priorities – and materialism is not even on the list!
I can hear the protests. “But I need to strive for a better job. I can’t rest on my laurels. I must get ahead in my profession.” “Doesn’t God want me to have a bigger house? Better clothes?”
Being ambitious can be a good trait. Paul certainly exhibited an undeterred desire to tell others of Jesus Christ, but he was willing to submit to God's will, and even if God took away every material good, I must learn to be like Paul – content in all circumstances, knowing God’s will is best.
Contentment is not being joyful with what we own, but Who owns us. I’m not my own, I’m His. God is my Father, and He says He will never leave nor forsake me. I rest in that promise, and I am content.
Since that first order from a shopping channel, my cable system has added two more, but I only get a brown package every now and then these days. I’m learning.
Prayer: Lord, I trust you to provide for me all my needs. My life is in Your strong hands. Thank You for Your love. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.