Are you going to get all you want for Christmas? As I was doing some shopping this morning at our friendly neighborhood Walmart, I saw a man go past me with this on his shirt, “Dear Santa, I want it all.” I thought to myself this encapsulates our society quite succinctly. When I was in high school, I remember the saying was “Whoever has the most toys when they die, wins.” It is the same thing. Our society is driven by our wants and our desires. The Scripture says that the reason we argue and fight with one another is because we are not getting what we want. Like babies throwing a hellacious fit because our mommy won’t give us the cookie, we live our life completely controlled by our wants and desires.
Of course, we could say it the other way. We are not controlled by our wants, but our discontent with what we have. I realize it is just a nuance, but there is a slight difference between not getting what you want and not being content with what you have. When we are discontent, we are so easily entangled in the traps laid out by this world. Discontentment with what we have leads to anger, bitterness, depression, divorce, abortion, financial issues, the lack of joy, the lack of peace, the lack of love.
The apostle Paul taught us to learn to be content in any and every situation. The unseen power of a contented life gives a thick layer of protection around everything we lose when we are discontent. And what is the key to learning to be content. Yep, you guessed it-thanksgiving.
When we learn to be thankful for what the Lord has given us and for what He has not, what can tempt us? How can we be tempted to yell and scream when someone doesn’t do what we think they should do if we learn to be thankful even for the difficult moments in life for what they can teach? A heart content seeks nothing, needs nothing, and never falls on the ground kicking and screaming when they don’t get what they want. And when the temptations of this life are set before us, contentment gives us the pause to know that we don’t need these things as much as it would cost us to go after. When I am content without money, I not seek after it no matter the cost. When I am content within my own heart, I don’t place pressure on anyone else to be something they are not. When I am content, I am full. I lack nothing.
This is the secret behind the beautiful 23rd Psalm. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” The NIV translates it differently saying, “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.” Really? Is it so that when give my life to the Lord that I lack nothing? This is the goal, of course. But it is not because the Lord gives me everything in the world. It doesn’t mean I will never go hungry. It does not mean that I will never be hurt. It does not mean that I will neve be lonely. It does not mean I will always have plenty of money. But what it does mean is that I am content with what the Lord has seen fit to give me. I am content to wait upon the Lord for all things I don’t have or need. I trust if the Lord has not given it to me, He knows best. Maybe He knows that if I had more money, my love for travel would keep me moving all around the world leaving me without a church home. He may know that I need a church home more than I need a trip around the world. In fact, a trip around the world seems a bit trivial in that context.
In a world that wants it all, contentment goes against the stream. And this is a good thing because I have seen where the stream is running and it is an ocean of fulfillment. My flesh will never be satisfied. Fulfillment is a matter of the heart, the soul, the spirit and last time I checked, you can’t put a brand new corvette into your spirit.
If you are reading this and realize the running waters of this world are taking you to a place you don’t want to go, fight against the stream with thanksgiving. Give thanks to God for what you have received from Him. Give thanks for what He has kept from you for your own good. Give thanks for what you have lost so that you didn’t depend on those things, but God Himself. Give thanks to God for the wonders and miracles and give thanks for the horrors and torment. To develop the sincere habit of giving thanks to God in all circumstances will guard your heart and your mind. You will not be carried downstream by the temptations of life, but instead, as promised by our Lord, a wellspring of life, living water will flow through you and out of you. Now, let’s give thanks.
I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (NIV)
1 Timothy 6:1-10
All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered. Those who have believing masters should not show them disrespect just because they are fellow believers. Instead, they should serve them even better because their masters are dear to them as fellow believers and are devoted to the welfare of their slaves.
False Teachers and the Love of Money
These are the things you are to teach and insist on. If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.
But godliness with contentment is great gain. 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. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people 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 (NIV)
Heavenly Father, You are enough. You are more than enough. You have been so good to me and Your love for me is so intense and constant. I lack for nothing when I have You. Help me to practice the habit of thanksgiving to keep my heart content. I know I should be content with You and with what You have given me, but at times, I take You for granted and at times, I want what is not good for me. Teach me the balance of going after the plans You have for me without putting any thing I desire above You. The key I know Lord is thanksgiving. Give me a thankful heart oh Lord. -Amen