1 Timothy 6:6-8: 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.
Contentment. God has provided me with food and clothing and so much more, so I should be content. Yet, more often than I’d like to admit, I’m not content. I want more of this thing, or a bigger and better version of that other thing. But I take heart when I am reminded that Paul wrote that he has learned (italics mine for emphasis) to be content whatever the circumstances (Philippians 4:11). Maybe it’s just that I’m a slow learner on this topic, but thankfully I believe there’s hope for me to learn how to be content at all times, too.
I think about how tough it can be for kids and teens to feel content in our current society. Stores are filled with aisle after aisle of toys for girls and boys in every shape, color, and size. When is enough really enough? Electronics departments target tweens and teens with increasingly complex gaming systems, tablets, laptops, and smartphones, with this year’s model out-doing last year’s model so you need to upgrade and update, right?
This topic brings to mind a story told by a former pastor that has stuck with me. I wish I knew the original author so I could give credit where credit is due, but I don’t. In any case, here goes as best as I can recall…
A few years ago, a grandpa and grandma were so very excited to celebrate Christmas with their grandson and granddaughter. They looked forward with eager anticipation to the smiles and hugs that would follow the opening of very special presents they had chosen with much care. For their grandson, they purchased the exact BMX bike he had been talking about for months. It came in a very large box that required several rolls of wrapping paper to cover, topped with a great big bow. To make sure that all was equal and fair, for their granddaughter they purchased ten gifts that were all small in size but totaled the exact dollar amount as her brother’s one large gift. Each of these ten small gifts was something they knew she wanted—a bottle of her favorite perfume, a sweater in her favorite color, art supplies, and so on.
Finally, Christmas morning arrived. The grandparents could hardly wait for their grandchildren to open their presents. Both kids bounded into the living room to look for their presents under the Christmas tree. Their grandson immediately noticed that his sister had ten presents when all he had was one, and was he ever angry! Their granddaughter immediately noticed that her brother had a huge present when all she got was small presents, and was she ever angry! Both grandchildren protested and pouted as they went crying to their bedrooms.
Yikes. This is not a pretty story, and we’re shocked at the ingratitude of the grandchildren. But let’s be honest. How often don’t we react like this to our heavenly Father, discontent with the abundant blessings he showers on us, thinking they are not enough?
How can we help our children—and ourselves—realize how abundantly we’ve been blessed?Let’s talk openly about our blessings at home, and say prayers of thanks to God for them. We can also thank God for the blessings he’s given to others. Let’s donate our overabundance of blessings and possessions to those who really need them. Let’s also give our offerings gladly and freely to our church and missions to support the spread of the gospel, out of true thankfulness.
No matter our age, I hope we would react with gratitude and appreciation for any and all gifts that God chooses to bless us with. Let’s be content with what we have been given! Let’s be glad for others who may have more. Let’s be generous to those who have less. Let’s pray for a heart of contentment.