How would you respond to this question if you could only answer with a ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ “Would you be content with food, water and shelter?” What is your response, ‘yes I would be content” or “no I would not be content.” You might be surprised on how the Bible would encourage the follower of Jesus to answer the question!
It is easy for us to think that our world today is different from those that lived in the past. Now, granted, there are many differences that are the result of technology and innovation. But an honest look at history reminds us that we as people have not changed. We are still the same in the inside. If you are student of the Bible then you know that we as human beings are broken. The Bible calls this the sin nature. It is a force within each of us that has the potential to do things that are self-serving. That is a discussion for another time, but it does relate to our original question on contentment.
One of the components of our broken nature is a desire for those things that make us feel good or allow us to be in control. Unfortunately, we are like a leaking bucket, we soon find ourselves empty and filling up on the things that make us feel good or allow us to be the boss of our lives. I recently was thinking of updating my phone to the latest and greatest. The truth is my existing phone was working just fine. Yet, I was tempted to spring for the latest and greatest version. But as you know, it is the latest and greatest until the next version is released. The result is that in a year of so I am desiring the next latest and greatest.
Paul reminds Timothy of the blessing of not getting pulled into that endless cycle of seeking contentment through stuff. He writes, “But godliness with contentment is great gain,” (1 Timothy 6:6) I don’t know if you have thought about the freedom you loose by having to have the latest and greatest cell phone. First, you have to shell out a significant amount of moola. And let’s be honest, the cost is the same even if you spread the payments out over two years. Then you will feel obligated to get the extended warranty to protect you against damage. You also are having to think about your phone too so that it is not stolen or damaged. Yes, in a very small way that have become in bondage to your phone. Paul puts it this way, “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.”( 1 Timothy 6:9) Now, I realize that a new cell phone is small thing, but stop and think about all those small things in your life that rob you of freedom and cause you to miss the blessings of life.
So, how do you break the cycle? Simply by learning to be content with what you have. Let’s face it we live in a culture driven by consumption so the moment you buy something it is out of date and needs to be replaced. I think it was the same way in Paul’s day. He writes to Timothy in the next verses, ““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.” (1 Timothy 6:7–8)
I would have a hard time being content with food, water and shelter but I am committed to pursuing contentment. And for now, I’ll just hold onto my cell phone for another year!
-Pastor Joe Parkinson