Philippians 4:12-13, “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.”
The Book of Ecclesiastes was written by a king whose name is associated with the word “peace.” Solomon was famous for his wisdom. He ruled in a city which attracted the wealth of surrounding nations and during his oversight the people of God saw the construction of the temple. This man of wisdom understood life on this earth and wrote about his observation as he considered the vanity and vexation of this world. He writes in Ecclesiastes 4:4, “And I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man’s envy of his neighbor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”
Most people have heard the phrase, “Keeping up with the Jones.” Pastor Rick Warren saw a sign that said, “Don’t worry about the Jones. They just filed chapter 13.”
Please understand that the whole of Scripture is not against the desire to acquire good things, the problem is what the Bible calls “coveting” which is the uncontrolled desire to acquire what your neighbor has. Today this sin is often referred to as “materialism.” Advertisers have spent billions knowing mankind’s bondage to covetousness.
There are four Biblical truths that will enable you to enjoy the contentment the Apostle Paul knew. One, “Do Everything in Christ’s Name.” Two, “Have a Fear of Covetousness.” Three, “Find Contentment Through Generosity.” And Four, “Have Your Hope In Eternal Things.”
In a day in which the Bible warns that the love of many will wax cold, the children of God can maintain a Biblical perspective and be content in every circumstance in life. Learn the contentment Paul knew!
Contentment is found in the heart of those who set their spiritual hope on eternal things. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
The Apostle Paul paid the cost of preaching the gospel and teaching God’s word. (2 Corinthians 1:8) He suffered physical afflictions (2 Corinthians 12:7) and persecution. (2 Corinthians 6:3-10) He knew disappointment in trusting people in ministry (Acts 15:38) and in being betrayed by those who hated his work with the Lord. (2 Timothy 4:14-15) Therefore, he was given truths that would keep us from becoming discouraged in spite of overwhelming odds.
The fact is our human bodies are getting older and they are more acceptable to illnesses and weakness that will sooner or later push us into the river of physical death. Holy Spirit illuminated Christians still serve the Lord with their bodies in full strength, knowing that some day they will get a resurrected body that will be imperishable and be clothed with immortality. Christians who set their hope on eternal things rejoice in the writings of the Apostle Paul, “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed–in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:50-56)
There will be a day when Christians will fully enjoy the eternal victory that Christ won for us on the Cross and in His raising from the dead. Therefore, give Him your best effort in the strength he provides! Set your hope on eternal truths!
This always begins by agreeing with God on the major problems that arise through coveting. 2 Timothy 3:2 says, “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy…” Holy Spirit illuminated Christians make a point to grasp the problems which arise from a coveting heart.
Covetousness has always been a very serious menace to mankind. It was one of the first sins that broke out after Israel had entered the Promise Land. (Achan, Joshua 7) It is found in the early Christian Church as well. (Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 5) Thus there are many warnings against this life controlling sin. This sin is so powerful and abundant in the heart of mankind, it is addressed in the Ten Commandments. Exodus 20:17, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
“Covet” (hamad) means to take pleasure in, to desire passionately. This sin causes people to desire that which is destructive. “Covetous” (philarguros) meaning people will want more and more, bigger and bigger, better and better and they will seldom be satisfied with what they have.
Walter B. Knight powerfully presents the destructiveness of the sin of covetousness, he writes, “Covetousness is a disease of the soul. It is soul-shriveling, character-tarnishing and personality-dwarfing. This sin tightens its grasp upon it victims as they grow older. It allows men to breath, but they never truly live. It’s victims may receive, but never give with a right motive. It’s victims become creation’s blot, creation’s blank.” (Knight’s Treasury)
Jesus said this sin comes from the spiritual heart. (Mark7:22-23) The Bible says it engrosses the heart. (Ezekiel 33:31; 2 Peter 2:14) This sin is idolatry. (Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:5) Covetousness leads to injustice and oppression; (Proverbs 28:20) foolishness and hurtful lust; (1 Timothy 6:9) departure from the faith; (1 Timothy 6:10) intrigues people to lie; (2 Kings 5:22-25) commit murder; (Ezekiel 22:12) theft and domestic affliction. (Proverbs 15:7) Christians are to avoid those who are guilty of coveting and even pray against it, not wanting it within their own hearts. (1 Corinthians 5:11; Psalm 119:36) Learning contentment begins with fearing covetousness!
Contentment has a based foundation of gratefulness to God. Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 says, “Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him–for this is his lot. Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work–this is a gift of God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.”
Today, many Christians are involved in what can be referred to as huge building projects that have no value of which a modern day Solomon would cite as being only frustration. Although the highwayman traditionally demanded, “Your money or your life,” the teacher of this passage of Scripture says we can have money, pleasure, and life in Christ.
When mankind works in his own strength for his own satisfaction he lays up for himself earthly and spiritual misery. This is what causes lethargy in approaching our work, family, life in general and especially the work of the Lord. An un-Biblical approach to whatever mankind chooses to do sooner or later births forth an inward bitterness.
Christians who are emotionally and spiritually mature are able to admire without feeling the need to acquire. They are not waiting for more money, better jobs, more time off, or better opportunities. They are serving the Lord now with what they have.
All this is accomplished simply by seeing every opportunity you have, every good thing you have, every gift and talent you have as coming from the Lord. All things and opportunities must be prayerfully approached with the understanding that unless the Lord gives what we need, opens doors and provides enablement, there is no contentment.
When Christians accept their identity, their position in life, and their work with joyfulness, they do not spend their days reflecting on what could have been. They are occupied with a gladness of heart and everything they do reflects gratefulness to the Lord, their Redeemer.
Be Grateful to the Lord!