Everywhere you look you see an ad for some gizmo or gadget. Marketing and sales is a cutthroat arena because companies are always vying for your attention and your dollar. The one thing we need above all of these ads and “sales” is to learn the art of contentment.
I call it an art because contentment is something that has to be learned just like playing the piano, painting, or singing at incredible ranges and octaves. Contentment must be practiced repeatedly for it to become second nature within us. The road to contentment is paved with the crucified life.
Contentment is defined as a state of happiness and satisfaction; but how do we learn to be in a state of happiness and satisfaction?
Let me jump back in time for a moment. Growing up we didn’t have much. I was able to get something every now and then, but my mother was inconsistent with her work so income was often unsteady. There was this contention between wanting to “get” and not being able to.
As I got older and started working I started being able to purchase what I wanted. I eventually started rationalizing the use of credit cards to “buy now and pay later.” I had not learned the art of contentment.
After getting even a little older I started realizing that burden of debt was more overwhelming than the joy of having something.
It was then I started learning contentment.
Paul gives us a great example in his letter to the Philippians.
Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:11-13
It’s funny because everyone uses Philippians 4:13 to talk about what they are doing. In reality Paul is talking about learning the art of contentment.
He was saying whether he is full or hungry, he is content because he can do it because Christ strengthens him. Whether he is rich or in need, he is content because Christ strengthens him.
Paul knew the extremes of both ends of the spectrum. He was a Pharisee of Pharisees. He was at the top of the class. He went from that to being shipwrecked and starved and beaten.
He learned contentment because he found Christ. God was his source not the things of this world. Just before this he recounts,
More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ – Phil 3:8
He was content in this life. He was content whether he was with or without. In his letter to the Romans he even got to a point of wanting to be able to give up his salvation so others could know Christ.
Christ is all. Paul knew this. Paul was content with whatever this life handed him because he knew Christ, the source of all things.
If only we could learn the art of contentment like Paul.
You see, I later paid off debt and started thinking about purchases more appropriately. After starting to learn better money management I was able to purchase things without the guilt of debt. Learning the art of contentment means I don’t have a house full of stuff I never use. I don’t have to keep up with the Jones’ and have the nicest car. I have 2 paid off cars that are 14 and 10 years old. I don’t have to have the top of the line name brand clothes. (Although there are some things that are worth spending money on, because you get what you pay for.) But, you don’t have to have 20 pairs of jeans or shoes.
My wife and I have learned the statement “less is more” really is true. Do I struggle with the desire to get things just to have them sometimes? Of course, I think we always will. We are continually bombarded with advertisements and sales, and until we fully learn the art of contentment we will never truly be satisfied.
We have to find our satisfaction in Christ, and Him alone. We have to be content to know Him as God, as friend, and as our source. We’ve got to know that even though the things of this world will pass, He will never leave us nor forsake us.
I challenge you today, to not get caught up in the advertisements and sales that bombard us each day and learn the valuable art of contentment.