7/3/2012 7:37:36 AM
Stop and ask yourself–right now–are you content? What does it mean to be content? We could use words like satisfied, comfortable, not in need. You can probably think of others.
A Scripture passage on the subject is 1 Timothy 6:8, “But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” “…if we have food and clothing, we will be content,” Paul writes. Oh, really? Have you thought about what that excludes? It excludes a home, a bed, a job, family, friends, education, transportation, entertainment, safety, and the list goes on. And yet Paul writes, “…we will be content.” Is he serious?!
But stop and think. What did Jesus have? We know he had no home. (“The Son of Man had no place to lay his head,” writes Matthew.) He had clothing, but probably only what was on his back. He had food, though he relied on the women who followed and supported him, and even fed himself from fields he was passing through. He didn’t need more than that to do his work here on earth--his work of providing salvation for all mankind. He had a perfect relationship with the Father. He was content.
Okay, you say, but we’re not Jesus! No, we’re not. But when Jesus sent his 12 disciples out, he told them in Luke, “Take nothing for the journey–no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic.” And WE received the same command as they–“Go and make disciples of all nations.”
Do you know what life is like in a third-world country? Have you seen how the great majority of the world’s seven billion souls live? It’s very much like Jesus did. Even most of our fellow-Lutherans around the world live day-by-day, hand-to-mouth, without the bounty with which we are blessed.
And we in America have been GREATLY BLESSED by the Lord. Let’s set aside for a moment our greatest blessing of eternal life and consider just the physical. God has showered on believers and unbelievers alike a super-abundance of earthly gifts–large, sheltering homes; heating and air conditioning; safe, comfortable cars; a mind-numbing array of restaurants, movies, water parks, golf courses, sporting events, museums, TV shows, and more; advanced medical care; vacation time and money; government that provides safety, good order, and freedom; ever-changing fashions. And the list goes on!
But are we–even we Christians–content with all we have? Evidence says no. Why else is there so much stress, such a rat-race, such a push to get more and have more, such a focus on things of this world?
When we truly recognize the bountiful blessings God has given even the poorest of us, we see we really don’t need more. “Godliness with contentment is great gain,” Paul said to Timothy. The writer to the Hebrews says, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have.” Paul wrote the Philippians, “I have learned the secret of being content….I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength,”–and this while he was imprisoned. And there’s the key—our relationship with Jesus.
When we are content, the focus of our lives isn’t on the earthly, but on things eternal. Remember the passage in Matthew? “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” When we are freed from worry about “what we will eat or what we will wear”, then we have the time, energy, money, and desire to work for that which has lasting value–the spread of the gospel right among our family and acquaintances, and all the way to parts of the world we will never see, people we will never meet till we meet at Jesus’ feet. Paul wrote the Corinthians, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
So be content with what you have. Live life, not in the earthly present, but in the eternal future glory of heaven. Be content with your circumstances–after all, God knows what you need and has promised to provide it. He has given you the spiritual task of sharing the gospel, and that’s where he wants your focus–“Fix your eyes on Jesus!”
Lord Jesus, thank you for the countless blessing you give me. Keep my focus on you, so that my other priorities fall into proper place. Help me share you with the people you put in my life each day, and show me ways I can support others working full-time to spread the gospel. Give them unflagging zeal, and uphold them by your power. Amen.