“I believe God will meet all my needs. But, I’m not sure he’ll meet all my needs. That’s my fear.”
My wife, Susan, and I recently attended a weekend retreat sponsored by Generous Giving, a ministry that encourages thoughtful, biblical generosity. So, here we were sitting around a huge stone fireplace in a Christian camp lodge, with seven Christian couples, most of whom were strangers, talking about stewardship.
My first observation is that it’s often easier to talk to strangers about this topic than our friends. With strangers, we can read what the Bible says and nod our heads in agreement – safe, knowing full well, they don’t have a clue as to how we really live – what we’re really like.
But, thanks to our moderator, the minute that statement made at the beginning of this blog was thrown out, everyone nodded silently. We had found common ground! There are people who truly lack food and shelter, the basic needs of life, but not this group! All our needs have been met. But, in that statement we immediately recognized that our hearts have slowly morphed so that many of our “wants” have now become our “needs”!
Why is that? Why have we let our wants so shape our happiness? I John 2:15-16 lays it out. “Do not love the world or anything in the world.If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world.” I John 2:15-16
John knew what we all know; most of us are content with what we have, until we see something nicer. Then mysteriously, what we have, instantly feels dated and second rate.
Here’s a truth you can take to the bank; “You can’t become content by getting what you want, you’ll just want more.” Discontentment is an addiction than can only be broken, like other addictions, by an intentional effort to understand the problem, and asking the Holy Spirit for the will to stop!
If you know this is your problem, it won’t just go away. You’ll need to do battle with it, pray for Holy Spirit wisdom, and make some pre-decisions to act differently, the next time the world robs you of contentment. Here are a few ideas:
Five ideas to develop more contentment;
1. Try a 60-90 day fast from websites, or stores that tempt you to want something better. A good friend did a new clothing fast for six months.
2. The next time you find yourself discontent, ask this question, “Did that thought come from a gracious and generous God?”
3. Take some quality time alone to examine how the temptation for more and better has put financial pressure on you and your family. Think about how the need for more has robbed you of time and money, God meant for others, (perhaps even your own children).
4. Develop the habit of asking this question every time you see something you’d like and are tempted to buy; “Do I need this?”
5. Be aware of the “triggers” in your life. Are there specific people with more income than you, who inadvertently tempt you to be discontent? Could your lifestyle be tempting others to be discontent?
Finally, I’d recommend a fine new book, Satisfied, by Jeff Manion. It’s an easy read with characters that all of us can identify with. In any case, a wise person will be pro-active in understanding how this sin is affecting them and their family. So what’s your plan?
Question: How have you done battle with contentment?
Following Jesus in Real Life