“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.’”
Contentment is a difficult thing to find.
Honestly, the world does not encourage contentment. Just as soon as you get the latest smartphone, there’s a new model announced. You think your car has all the bells and whistles, wait until what you see next year’s line. Whatever you’re reading this email on, it’s already out of date. The grass is always greener, softer, more “grassy” on the other side of the fence.
It’s not a matter of keeping up with the Joneses anymore, whoever they might have been. It used to be that you knew the Joneses, lived in the same town as them, operated in a similar economy. The notion of “keeping up” was at least in the realm of possibility.
Now, with the constant barrage of social media and worldwide advertising we are encouraged to compare ourselves with the unattainably wealthy, and to never be satisfied until we are just like them. We live under the constant pressure to have more, to get more, to be more. Our identity is wrapped up in our possessions, we are defined by what we have.
But it’s not just the stuff.
There is also a particular pressure to live up to the impossible standards of the “perfect” life that’s floating around out there. We act like we have to have it all together. You know what I mean:
- The car is detailed, not a stale French fry to be found.
- The children are clean, quiet, well-mannered, and always right on time for their soccer/music/scouts/church events with a warm batch of brownies to share.
- The house is immaculate, maintaining that delicate balance of feeling comfortable and looking like everything was just delivered by Ethan Allen.
- You’re never stressed, never tired, and always available to play another round of Monopoly with the kids AND volunteer to take meals to the shut-ins AND lead a small group study.
Granted, no one has ever done this and survived, but we all feel like that’s what everyone else expects of us, and we have to maintain the illusion. We wouldn’t want to let anyone down.
Why do we act like this? Why do we build our identity on the things we acquire, on the things we do, on the illusion that we are so well put together? We rush through this life, grabbing up everything we can, thinking that maybe the things we surround ourselves with will finally bring meaning, satisfaction, or security to our fragile existence. We compare ourselves to the people around us, wanting to be as happy as they are, never realizing what insecurities or pains they are wrestling with inside.
Perhaps it stems from a case of misplaced love. That’s why the author of Hebrews says, “Keep your life from the love of money.” Your identity and contentment are really a matter of the heart. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Where is your heart directed? You will either love God with all your heart, and all the priceless delights will be found in His provision, or your heart will be divided among the passing and unsatisfying bar-coded indulgences. Both may satisfy, but only one will satisfy completely.
It could be, too, that we have forgotten who, and whose we are. This often happens when our hearts are divided, we not only lose our contentment, we lose our identity. Kevin DeYoung, in his book The Hole in our Holiness, puts it this way,
If we are heirs to the whole world, why should we envy? If we are Gods’ treasured possession, why be jealous? If God is our Father, why be afraid? If we are dead to sin, why live in it? If we’ve been raised with Christ, why continue in our old sinful ways? If we are loved with an everlasting love, why are we trying to prove our worth to the world? If Christ is all in all, why am I so preoccupied with myself?
Here’s the thing, if you want to find contentment, if you want peace from the rat-race, if you want to be secure in your identity remember God’s promise to you. He said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Jesus promised, “I am with you always, even to the of the age.” He is with us, and we need nothing more for our joy and peace in believing, for our comfort in life and in death, there is not one spiritual blessing withheld from those who seek him with all their heart. Be satisfied in Him, know the soul-satisfying joy of His presence.
Say it with me, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want!”
Sola Deo Gloria!