1 Timothy 6:6-10
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we will take nothing out of it. but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. some people, eager for money, have wondered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
The American dream would lead us to believe we deserve a certain standard of living. That we are all able to attain and have the same successes, and possessions. That we are truly equal in each realm of life. This is a nice Utopian idea. Where we can all live at the same standard. Where we can be immediately gratified, but like most idea's our society is selling, these ideas are fraught with lies.
The truth in America today is that there are very distinct classes in regards to monetary wealth. The current financial crisis we are pulling out of clearly supports this. People chose to borrow their way out of their financial class and are now facing the reality of spending above their means. Others, some of whom claim to know Jesus Christ as their saviour, continue to forsake reality and live in a class above their means and are heading straight for disaster and much heartache.
When we bless ourselves by spending money out of our means, we miss out on God blessing us. If we choose to put ourselves first, our lusts and desires, we have replaced the Lord's blessing over us with our own. This is a very dangerous place to be. We each must ask ourselves if we are idolizing ourselves and breaking the second commandment. Our culture readily condones and promotes the practice of getting whatever we want by whatever means. If it takes a little debt to get what we want, our culture says, "go for it! Everyone else is too!" Sacrifice and contentment have no place in this way of thinking. Being content would mean that we may have to settle and that would never do according to this world! What a harmful lie we believe when we allow ourselves to align our thinking with these messages. When we choose to live outside our means and the blessing God has given us we build a wall between God and ourselves. We lose freedom and create bonds to money lenders.
There is freedom in boundaries. We may not have our eyes tickled by entertainment as often as our desires would like. We may have to work harder to provide what we would rather pay others to do for us. But, we will learn what true contentment is and reap the rewards of our efforts. In Philippians 4:11b-13 Paul encourages us with these words, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 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."
We, like Paul, will know something so much sweeter than worldly wealth and treasures. We will know the peace and contentment when we live with the treasures the Lord would will us to have.
Several years ago as a young stay at home mother I had my heart set on getting a high-end name brand purse. I had finally nagged my hard working husband enough and he agreed to let me get a knock-off one. As I was driving to the knock-off purse store I happened upon a christian radio program that was airing a discussion on class in America. It talked about how low income people will often choose to appear to live outside of their class in an effort to conceal the truth. The commentators mentioned how destructive the practice of eating steak on a hamburger budget was. I felt some of the deepest shame I had ever felt at that moment. I asked myself, "what business do you have carrying around some rich ladies purse? What are you trying to prove and to who?" I realized I had proven to God that I was greedy and unthankful; and to my husband that I was ungrateful, needy, and unable to please.
As Christians we must reject the temptation to follow the trends of the culture we live in. We must conform to God's ways and His will. In this we will be able to see the joy of the Lord's hand blessing us and freedom from the heavy burden of financial debt. Learning to be content and say no to ourselves is difficult but yields joy, peace and fruit. What a wonderful example of obedience we are when we find contentment. Each day we can choose to say, "some may, I may not" with joy! It can be done and will save us from much hardship.
Matthew 6:24 says, "no one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." Who will we choose to serve each day? What will we choose to model to our children? How will we live out the grand character of the Proverbs 31 woman? Let us choose to rise to the standard that our Father has placed before us to glorify Him, leave room for His blessing, and secure peace for the future of our families and future generations. Let us choose to shake off the shackles of worldly lust and lies, and live in truth and freedom!