Christian Disciple and Contentment…
Paul writing in the Book of 1 Timothy 6:6-10; 17-19 “A devout life does bring wealth, but it’s the rich simplicity of being yourself before God. Since we entered the world penniless and will leave it penniless, if we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that’s enough. But if it’s only money these leaders are after, they’ll self-destruct in no time. Lust for money brings trouble and nothing but trouble. Going down that path, some lose their footing in the faith completely and live to regret it bitterly ever after. Tell those rich in this world’s wealth to quit being so full of themselves and so obsessed, with money, which is here today and gone tomorrow. Tell them to go after God, who piles on all the riches we could ever manage-to do good, to be rich in helping others, to be extravagantly generous. If they do that, they’ll build a treasury that will last, gaining life that is truly life.”
A major opponent of contentment is what is labelled the prosperity doctrine. This stipulates that since as Christians we are children of the King, then we should be living like kings in the physical sense. If you are God’s child, then God will bless you so abundantly you will have that earthly mansion, a million pounds in the bank, a good wife or husband and children, if only you follow him. And if you don’t receive these things, then maybe you should be asking for forgiveness, because apparently you are not a child of the King. What a load of rubbish! It is just materialism in another disguise where possessions and material things are their gods and not the living God. Its very source is pride, and not humility, because they proudly proclaim “I am first, and everyone else is last”. I defy anyone who believes this prosperity doctrine to take a trip to the poorer areas of the world and tell that false doctrine to the leaders of the churches who are working faithfully in those areas. I guarantee you would cause more harm than good. That is not to say that God never blesses His children with material possessions, because He does – the Old Testament King Solomon is a prime example of this.
So if the prosperity doctrine is a false teaching, what does a truly biblically balanced view of contentment consist of?
In the Bible passage I read earlier, Paul commands Christian Disciples to be content with godliness. We came into this world with nothing, and we will leave this world with nothing (v6). The bare necessities for contentment of life are food, clothing & shelter (v7). However, we could, with justification say that some other things are also necessary. Cars, books, and computers may with some justification to ourselves as individuals, be a necessity. That is up to our own individual consciences. But what we need to do, when considering purchasing items is, not to ask “Can I afford it?” but rather “Can I justify it, and could the money be better used elsewhere?”
There are many Christian organisations that need money to continue operating. Perhaps, the money I was going to use for the trip overseas, could be of better use elsewhere in the kingdom of God? Further on in 1 Timothy 6, Paul states that we are not to desire riches, lest we fall into the temptation of coveting and wander away from the faith of God (vv9-10), not to love money because it is a source of evil (v10). Everyday Christians pray that God would not lead them into temptation; and he does not, they do that quite easily by themselves. And those that are rich, are not to flaunt it arrogantly and are not to place their hopes in them (v17). Those who are rich, are commanded to be rich in good deeds, to be generous and sharing (v18), building up heavenly treasure instead of earthly rubbish (v19). I should hasten to add, that contentment should also carry with it, the idea of living simply, in sympathy and solidarity with the poor of the world. Every one of us, could to some degree, live that little bit more simply, and donating the money saved to a worthy concerned organisation helping out the poor of the world. Remember we are blessed by God, in order to bless others!
The humble, say “God is first, others are second, and I come last” and puts people before possessions. The Christian Disciple is to place their trust in God alone, and not in their material possessions. It so easy to fall into the trap of saying – “If only I had that new computer; or camera; or car; or an easier job with more money?” It is so easy to say these things, and forgetting to be content with what we have. And it is even easier to forget to say thank-you to God for giving us all our good things. I would hazard to say, that probably the only time we say thank-you to God, is before the food that we eat. We hardly ever thank him, for friends and all the other material blessings He does provide and the pleasure we gain from He gives us. And that is the key to biblical contentment. “Could I really thank my Lord for this particular item I want?”
For more to think about, please do read for yourself 1 Timothy 6. Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.
Q1 – As a Christian Disciple, in what ways are you not content?
Q2 – What blessings has God bestowed upon me, that I should give Him thanks for?
Q3 – How can I use the money and possessions God has blessed me with, in order that He is glorified and worthy of honour, this week?