Friday, June 13, 2008

The Importance of Contentment

The other day I was listening to HOPE 90.5 FM who broadcasts pastors from all over the country and their teachings. Skip Heitzig was speaking on the message of contentment and how so many of us, particularly in the United States, lack it. To some this may seem like an insult, but I have to say, I think he's right.

In our society we're driven to consume things. We always want more. Maybe we'll be happier if we get that new car or maybe we'll have a good day if we head to the mall and shop till we drop. We have houses full of things and basements and garage stuffed to the rafters. The new thriving business is self-storage facilities that are popping up all over.

And believe me, I am not trying to lecture you. I am just as guilty. I have things from birthdays and Christmases past that I haven't even had a chance to "play" with or use. I've only managed to make it through 1 disk of 4 from the Taxi television DVD's that may parents gave me years ago. And books? They are piled high. It could years for me to get through them all. Honestly, I could not buy one more thing (besides food and essentials) and have enough things to entertain me for a very long time. In fact, I'd like nothing more than just the time to enjoy the things I already have.

Even the Bible speaks of contentment. Philippians 4:11-14 says: "Not that I was ever in need, for I learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty of little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength." This came from Paul, author of the book Phillippians with the intent of thanking the Phillippians for the gifts they had given him and to show them that true joy comes from Jesus.

We can still draw on this verse today for we really will only find contentment in a future with the Lord. Materialistic things mean nothing. They rot, get lost, and lose meaning to us. Often an impulse buy seems like fun at the time, but then later with then novelty wears of we find we don't even know where the item is. To tell you the truth, I couldn't tell you what I got for my 30th birthday which was almost 4 years ago, so you can see how unimportant "things" really are.

So why do we have such a drive to hoard so many things? It could be:
  • We're trying to fill an emptiness within us.
  • We're bored.
  • Shopping is our hobby.
  • We learned it from our parents.
  • We have a serious shopping obsession that requires help.
  • It was fun to shop while we were out with friends.
  • We're trying to substitute our love for others by giving them things.
And I am sure the list could go on and on...

But what can we do about it? Try to:
  • Attend church or other church-related activities more to make a strength connection with God.
  • Read the Bible more.
  • Spend more time with family, friends, and our fluffy furry pet friends.
  • Find a new hobby.
  • Exercise.
  • Make list of all the blessings in your life and try focusing on them.
  • Rather than buying gifts for the holidays or birthdays, plan a trip or an event and spend time with your loved ones.
True contentment takes a lot of practice and conscious effort, but it's worth it. It makes us a better person, helps to get our priorities straight by showing us that eternal life with Jesus is what really matters, and prevents us from buying, buying, and buying. Not only does it make us a better person, it helps keep our garbage dumps less crowded!

Be content!
Wishing you "Blessings from Above,"

1 comment:

The Fearless Blog said...

Enjoyed reading this article, and as you say though controversial I too believe we as American's lack what I call an "appropriate dose of contentment." I still believe we should strive for excellence in our relationships, in our work and studies, but "to live" happily with our lives and know that we are blessed with so much already. The "stuff" the "junk" that I don't care for very much, quality is always more important than quantity. And you are right all we are really trying to do is fill the void, the need for that "something." We are so often blinded by the people around us, the media and the advertisements. With age and experience, I guess, some people do figure it some of it out eventually, change and grow, and many of us become role models for others, hoping to inspiring a better life for those who are younger. I recently wrote a story on my blog entitled "A Woman I Don't Know." The underlying message in the story relates to much of what you wrote here. I'd love your feedback.

Thank you for sharing.