Contentment 5

Philippians 4:10-13

One of my college professors once brought in an enlarged photograph of his son on Christmas morning. The boy, about four years old, was sitting on the floor wearing a brand new football helmet. All around him were his presents – toy trucks, cars, balls, games – a sea of presents. But he had the sourest, saddest face you can imagine.

All of the many gifts, all of the many possessions did not make him happy. And the same can be said of so many people in the world. Having an abundance of money or possessions can not bring happiness.

Near the end of his letter to the church in Philippi, Paul offers thanks for the gifts (and we can assume he is talking about cash) the church has given him. What does he express in verse 10? What explanation does he give in verse 11? What does he say about his attitude in verse 12? What truth is offered in verse 13?

Paul thanks the church for their concern, but quickly explains that he is not responding as someone who is desperately in need. His appreciation is not in the amount given, but in the attitude that the church has toward him.

Paul has been through good times and bad. He has known wealth and success, and he has experienced poverty. We know from the book of Acts and other letters that Paul has enjoyed fame and popularity, but he has also experienced beatings and imprisonment.

But through it all he has found the ability to be content with what he has. And where does that contentment come from? Paul is able to be content in all things because he knows God is always with him. He has invested himself in spiritual food, and he has shunned the evils of wealth. His attitude is always one of good cheer, giving to God of his time and efforts gladly.

Paul credits God with all of his abilities. And he credits God with all that he has, content with what he has been given, whether a little or a lot. From Paul we have a lesson in our own attitude toward what we have and what we can do.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you find contentment in every situation?

Money Contentment 4

2 Corinthians 9:7

I recall one Christmas when I was a teenager my cousin, whom I rarely saw over the course of the year, gave me a gift. I was surprised, and at first felt bad because I had not gotten him anything. But he explained that he just wanted to give a gift and I should accept it. After all of this time I don’t remember what the gift was, but I do remember how happy I was to receive and how happy he was to give.

Today’s passage is a single verse, but one with great weight. Who decides what we give? What should our attitude be?

I find it interesting that any mention of giving and tithing in the Bible does not deal with specific amounts. There is no set monetary amount on our gifts. The tithe is a percentage. As a percentage it fluctuates based on what we have.

Our gifts and offerings, beyond the tithe, are supposed to be an amount that we determine on our own. The amount is not important. The attitude is.

We are not to give with a feeling of obligation. We should not give because we feel guilty or that we are in debt. We are to give with a glad heart. We are to give out of gratitude and celebration for what God has given us.

And if we can be content with what we have, if we can find peace no matter whether we have an abundance or very little, then giving can be something we do willingly and with a cheerful heart.

God does not appreciate large amounts of money over small amounts. What God values is the gift given willingly and gladly. God loves a cheerful giver, a giver who gives from a sense of contentment with what is possessed.

We should give with a glad and adoring heart, even if we feel what we give is too little.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What is your attitude when you give to God?

Financially Content 3

Hebrews 13:5-6

Working as an outreach educator for the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History we had a lesson about the length of time, trying to present the concept of large numbers. The director had a scroll of paper with one million dots printed on it, and we would unroll the scroll to see how long one million dots would go. The scroll went from one end of the room to the other and still could have gone further – and that was just dots.

With that in mind we told the students to imagine 50 million years, 100 million, 200 million, and so on. It is a staggering amount. But this passage from Hebrews deals with a much larger number – the concept of eternity, or “never.”

What instruction is given? What promise does God give? How should we feel about that?

Most of us have money worries and concerns about finances. Will we have enough for the week? Will we have enough for the month? What about the rest of our lives?

And with these worries we can begin to desire more and more and more in our lives. But God tells us we should be content with what we have. We should be satisfied if we have just enough or if we have extra.

And the reason we can be content with what we have is the knowledge that we are not alone in our lives. No matter how many days and months and years lie ahead, we will have God as our companion and God to watch over us all the days of our lives.

In fact, God will be with us forever – beyond one million years, beyond 100 million years.
God has promised that He will never leave us and never forsake or forget about us. His love and care extends beyond any number our minds may conceive and even the numbers we can’t conceive. With that confidence we should be content that what we have will be enough because God will provide.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you learn to be content with what you have?

Financially Content 2

Mark 8:33-37

As Christians, especially so soon after Easter, we are all keenly aware of the sacrifices Jesus made for the benefit of all people. We can take away from the account in Mark 8:31-38 the struggle that Jesus was having in facing the work he needed to do in approaching the cross. He has told the disciples of his impending crucifixion, and on hearing this Peter rebukes Jesus for considering this.

That is when Jesus tells Peter, “Get behind me, Satan.” (Mark 8:33) In other words, don’t tempt me to stray from what I need to do. What are we called to do? What important message is given in verses 36 and 37?

We can certainly put a value on our home and on most of our possessions. We can put a dollar amount on our furniture, our car, and our insurance policy. We can make a list of our income amount and how much we spend each month on necessary items and unnecessary costs.

But what is the value of our soul? No matter how much money we have in the world, no matter what our income or what we own, what is the value of our soul?/p>

Does surrounding ourselves with possessions and objects make us better people? Is the true worth of a person measured in what is owned or in who we are?

The answer, of course, is that our true value is in the integrity of our lives and the goodness we can bring to the kingdom of God. It does us no good to amass material possessions and be horrible, greedy and uncaring people. We are called to be holy just as Jesus was holy. And often this endeavor, to focus ourselves on what is valuable to God, can be a struggle. In that struggle we may need to command the Satans of our lives – the desire for material gain, our possessions, our selfishness – to get behind us so that we are not distracted from our worthy goal.

We should be content with what we are given by God, content with having enough for our lives. We should focus on giving ourselves and our energies to God and not to building a kingdom of wealth.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What can we do to put the “Satan” of greed behind us?

Financially Content 1

Isaiah 55:2

I grew up believing that my mother was the meanest person in the world. As a child my mother would never buy me toys and candy when she went to the store, no matter how much I whined and cried. It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized how poor we had been when I was young.

My mother did not buy me toys and candy because we couldn’t afford toys and candy. Instead, my mother made certain that our income was spent on necessary items – milk, bread, meat, potatoes, vegetables. I was never lavished with luxuries like toys and candy, but I was provided the very healthy and essential foods I needed.

In Isaiah God speaks to His people and invites us to enter into His abundance. What rhetorical question is asked? What is offered?

The Bible addresses many issues about life, including our finances. No matter what your income level is in our society, we all need to be aware of where we are spending our money. We are called not to waste our money on pointless efforts and on useless items. Instead, we should be careful with where we spend.

But beyond money, God encourages us to be aware of where our focus is, and what we value. Why should we invest time, money and effort in things that do nothing for our benefit? Why do we spend time in foolishness and not in spiritual endeavors?

Personal interests, frivolities, fun, entertainment all have their places and are certainly available for our pleasure. But we should not allow them to consume all of our lives. Just as we need to be judicious in where we spend our money, we need to consider where our heart and our thoughts are.

God does not want us to waste money or effort on those things which will not satisfy us or build us up. We are invited instead to enter into the kingdom of God and find the guidance and fulfillment we can find in our heavenly Father.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How much money have you spent this year on things that do not satisfy?