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Content or Coveting

January 17th, 2015

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Timothy 6:6 NIV.

EDL Contentment graphic

Coveting is the enemy of contentment.

My thoughts and comments today are about being “content or coveting.”

The world surrounding you is incurably materialistic yet increasingly discontented. Commercial advertising fosters discontent, until you not only want more, you think you actually need more. Never confuse luxuries with necessities or desires with needs. Your Father promises to supply all your needs, but not all your wants. Paul was clear, “My God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 NIV. Of that you can be absolutely sure.

The complication comes when you covet what you see others have. Coveting is a wicked thing, causing you to envy others to the extent that you would prefer you were so fortunate, and ultimately that they were not. The Bible speaks wisely and practically, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with what you have.” Hebrews 13:5 NKJV. Coveting is the enemy of contentment. Contentment is the cure for coveting.

The Bible states a sure and simple truth, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Timothy 6:6 NIV. Paul’s reasoning is also simple; “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” 1 Timothy 6:7-8 NIV. Know when enough is enough. Discontentment leaves you vulnerable to covetous desires, insatiably wanting what you do not have and begrudging what others enjoy. “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Timothy 6:9-10 NIV.

That is the reality that corrupted the bliss of the Garden of Eden, “When Eve saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eye, and desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.” Genesis 3:6. She saw; she desired; she took. That is a formula for a spiraling regression to discontent. Instead, may your heart pray, “Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your Word.” Psalm 119:37 NIV.

Years earlier, my friend, Campbell, shared a wise and invaluable lesson with me: the heart cannot desire what the eye has not seen. Looking produces longing; longing creates a need to possess. Having too little money is not your biggest problem; the real dilemma and one that touches every soul is when you covet what others have, thereby loving money as a necessity for supplying your desires without reliance on God.

When you covet what others have, you will eventually doubt God’s willingness and ability to provide your needs. “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”  2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV. It is simple; present every need to God in prayer, trusting Him to give you whatever is wise for you, consistent with His will, and in His time and manner. Paul found contentment to be a lesson learned, ”. . in any and every situation . . whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” Read Philippians 4:6-7, 11-13 NIV. Imagine your life satisfied and content.

Today, my prayer for you is that you avoid struggling to have things you don’t need.

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Contentment

May 12th, 2011

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Philippians 4:11 NIV

“If you do not have what you want, learn to want what you have.”

My thoughts today are about “contentment.”

Contentment is not easy to come by in a world where people always want something more, something else, or something they don’t already have. If it’s small, we want it big. If it’s old, we want it new. If it’s theirs, we want it ours. A man of vast wealth was asked, “How much money does it take to make a wealthy man happy?” His answer? “Just a little more!” And then people wonder why they are not happy! The reality is that most people’s wants far exceed their needs. Contentment is knowing when enough is enough. Why are we not happy with what God provides?

Long ago I heard some simple advice expressed this way, “If you do not have what you want, learn to want what you have.” “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with what you have. For He has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5 NKJV. Wouldn’t you be happier if you could do that, or maybe it’s more like, if you would do that?  That would suggest to me that covetousness is the seed of discontent. When you strongly want what someone else has even if that would leave them with less, you become discontent with what God gives you. Jesus never taught against wealth; He did, however, teach against greed and ingratitude. See Luke 12:15-21 NKJV.

I confess; I grew up in simpler times. As a child, we didn’t have a lot of things wrongly considered necessities today, but we didn’t seem to know that. Maybe that was because few if any people we knew seemed to have much either. We had enough, not much extra, but certainly plenty. More importantly, my Mom and Dad never talked or acted like that was inadequate. Our family was happy and content.

Paul wrote, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances . . I have learned the secret of being content in any and every circumstance.” Philippians 4:11-12NIV. Notice Paul’s accent? “I have learned . .” Those verses tell me several things about contentment. (1) Contentment is a process. It doesn’t just happen; it isn’t learned overnight. Each day you can learn a little more about how to be content, but along the way there are tests so you can gauge whether or not you are learning.

(2) Contentment is independent of circumstance. Paul wrote some of his most joyous words from the confinement of a prison cell. Settle this once and for all: you don’t have to have more to be happy. “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.” 1 Timothy 6:6-8 NKJV.

(3) Contentment accepts the rhythms of life. There will be times when you have more and times when you have less. Both are valuable. In times of plenty, you learn to be thankful and share; in times of less, you learn to trust and appreciate.

(4) Contentment is confidence in God’s provision. “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength . . and My God will supply all (my) needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:13/19 NIV. With God, you will always have enough; enjoy all God provides and be thankful to Him and others.

My prayer for you today is: let living better, rather than having more, be your goal in life.

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