CONTENTMENT AND THE CHRISTIAN
The Apostle said, “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content”. [Phil 4:11].
Notice, he did not say that it was something which he was born with, but something which he had LEARNED. Contentment is something which we all need to LEARN.
The only thing promised to the Christian in the New Testament as far as temporal things are concerned are Food and Clothing! [see Mat 6:25-33, 1Tim 6:8]]. Everything else is a BONUS!
Yes that’s right! The roof over your head, that vehicle you go around in, and even that wristwatch on your hand is all a bonus. Scripture says that, “It is enough for the disciple that he be as his Master, and the servant as his Lord”. And again the servant is not greater than his Master! If you remember well, the Master said, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head”.
But thanks be to God, that He has given us so much more than what He Himself had on earth. In fact Scripture says that “His divine power hath given unto us ALL THINGS THAT PERTAIN UNTO LIFE and godliness”. [2pet 1:3] And the ALL THINGS include the roof over your head, the job that you hold, your vehicle, your wristwatch etc.
Now these things along with the blessing of the Lord should keep us content. But sadly there is within the best of us a covetous spirit. The old nature does not vanish once you become a born-again Christian. David the man after God’s own heart prayed – “Incline my heart unto Thy testimonies, and NOT TO COVETOUSNESS”.[Psa 119:36].
Covetousness is nothing but a strong or inordinate desire of obtaining and possessing some supposed good. This strong or inordinate desire is what I term as a ‘MUST-HAVE’ MENTALITY.
From time to time we Christians fall prey to this ‘must-have’ mentality even without consciously knowing it. In order for us to be happy or be fulfilled we feel we ‘must have’ a certain thing. It could be something as obvious as the shining ‘new car’ parked in your neighbour’s yard or something as harmless as the new leather bound Thompson Chain Reference Bible your pastor was using in Church this Sunday. It matters little that you already have a car (though an old dinky one) and you have a Gideon’s Bible in almost every room!
The Spirit of God is faithful to remind you that you can’t afford that new shiny car and there is no need for the Thompson Bible! But then you have already been enticed and the lust hath conceived! YOU MUST HAVE IT! You know that as a Christian you cannot rob! So what’s the answer?
When we reject God’s warning and decide to follow the lusts of our heart the devil ALWAYS HAS AN ANSWER FOR US. “You can still buy that car, dude” he whispers. But how, you ask? ……. “Buy it on CREDIT! Buy now and pay tomorrow”!
So the covetous Christian unwittingly buys the ‘shiny new car’ which he CANNOT AFFORD and BINDS HIMSELF TO THE LENDER! He is not the ‘free man’ that Christ wants him to be! Scripture says, “THE BORROWER IS SERVANT TO THE LENDER”. [Prov 22:7] God never intended His Children to borrow! He says , “thou shalt LEND unto many nations, but THOU SHALT NOT BORROW’. [see Duet 15:6 & 28:12].
And sadly his covetousness does not end with the shiny new car. He realizes that he is still living in a RENTED HOUSE while his unsaved brother-in-law has just bought his own mansion in Beverly Hills! “No problemo” says the devil. “Your credit score is good and the banker likes you”. So he buys that house too on credit and spends the rest of his life slogging to pay off his debts.
So you see, how refusing to be content and living within our income leads to unwanted sorrow. [I personally worked for a Collection Agency as a collector for four years and I know what I am talking about]. I guess ‘peer-pressure’ has a lot to contribute to it. “Oh what will my neighbours think of me if they see me going around in this old dinky car”?
We must determine to be like the Master who cared little about what men around Him thought, but was always concerned about pleasing His Father![see Mat 22:16]. And the Apostle said, “Do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for IF I YET PLEASED MEN, I SHOULD NOT BE THE SERVANT OF CHRIST”. [Gal 1:10]
“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and BE CONTENT WITH SUCH THINGS AS YE HAVE: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee”. [Heb 13;5] is more than just good advice. It is a rule to live by for the Christian, if he is to be sober and vigilant and steer clear of the devils jaws [1Pet 5:8].
If there is one lesson that life has taught me and in many ways I am still learning, in my twenty nine years as a Christian, it is this – “A man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth”. [Lk 12:15]
Think about it – Even if I had a room full of mattresses, I can only lie down on one!