by: Gary L. Hutchens
Our culture is obsessed with materialism. Another way of putting it is we are consumed by the never ending drive to possess more and more things! A part of that obsession is the mindset that acquiring those things- fancy clothes with the right labels, a new car, a bigger house, a huge flat screen high-def television, the newest game system, the latest smokin’ hot electronic gadgetry…- will bring us happiness and a sense of fulfillment. The happiness, however, proves to be hollow and fleeting, and of course all of those things have to be paid for, a reality that tends to further diminish the fulfillment we thought having them would bring. We’ll never find lasting contentment in the possession of things.
True happiness, genuine fulfillment, real peace and lasting contentment are found only in Jesus Christ. When Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians, he was a prisoner in Rome. Even so, he told them that he had learned the secret to being content in whatever state he found himself, whether positive or negative (Phlp. 4:11-12). The secret was his relationship with his Savior Jesus Christ: “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me” (vs. 13). We need to learn that truth today.
In his first letter to Timothy, Paul really got to the bottom line: “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content”
(1 Tim. 6:6-8). Having just food and clothing is pretty basic, unless you don’t have enough food to eat or adequate clothing to cover your body. When a person has been stripped of most everything, the basic necessities become a whole lot more important to him. In our culture, most people would probably find themselves in deep despair if all they possessed was food and clothing. But if we’re in a right relationship with Christ, then eternity is assured, and that far surpasses anything this life has to offer.
If we’re always disappointed over what we don’t have, then our lives will be generally unhappy. However, if we can stay focused on the most important matter- our salvation in Christ- then we can come to realize that the possession of things is not that important. Notice how the Hebrews writer put it: “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” (Heb. 13:5-6).
The blessings of this life are simply icing on the cake, so to speak. What really matters is our spiritual well being. Paul gave attention to our spiritual blessings: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3). If we will give the proper focus to the spiritual blessings offered to us through Christ, we’ll probably find ourselves much more content in our physical lives. That contentment eludes a great many, if not most, of the people in this world. They haven’t learned the secret to true contentment…
Gary L. Hutchens