Contentment

And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”‘

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

“This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16-21)

Contentment is a learned secret.
The Oxford Dictionary defines “hoard” as accumulating more than one’s current requirements. God addressed this issue early on in the Old Testament when He gave instructions to the Israelites regarding manna from heaven. We find in Exodus:

Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.” (Exodus 16:4-5)

Moses said to them, “It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat. This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Each one is to gather as much as he needs. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.'”

The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. And when they measured it by the omer, he who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little. Each one gathered as much as he needed.

Then Moses said to them, “No one is to keep any of it until morning.”

However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them. (Exodus 16:15-20)

While saving is prudent and commendable, hoarding is greedy and selfish. It reeks of an attitude that lacks faith in our Supplier and points to the fact that we somehow believe we are responsible in meeting our own needs–taking God out of the equation. Just like the Israelites, our hoarding produces maggots and begins to smell. We are told by Paul:

Sacrifice and self-control are beautiful graces.

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. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men 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. (1 Timothy 6:6-10)

It is important to note that money is not the root of evil; it is the love of money that is the problem. Paul goes on to tell us in Philippians that contentment is a learned secret:

“Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace.” G.K. Chesterton

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 everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13)

The secret of Paul’s contentment was the power of Christ within him, giving him strength and peace. Contented people do not live excessively. They are not always searching for more and more. They understand when enough is enough. There is a great deal of freedom and insight to be gained from this. We have been sold the bill of goods that accumulation brings contentment. Oftentimes, quite the opposite is true! Are your possessions possessing you? Possessions are supposed to bring us joy, but they can end up consuming our time, talents, resources, and abilities! I am sure that is one reason we are told in Proverbs:

Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God. (Proverbs 30:8-9)

“It is another one of those ‘immutable laws of the universe’ where sharing, caring and giving trumps self-centered, narcissistic and selfish every time.” -thinktq.com

Take It to Heart

God desires for us to give freely and cheerfully, sharing with those who are in need and practicing hospitality. When we are on the receiving end, we are in turn to pass on the blessing to others. Luke tells us:

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38)

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