"He who is not contented with what he has,
would not be contented
with what he would like to have." -Socrates
with what he would like to have." -Socrates
I recently came across this quote in a book by my favorite author, Valorie Burton. To say I have this all figured out would be a major understatement. In fact, reading that quote & pondering what it means allowed me do a lot of reflecting & self inventory. We probably are all very familiar with the scriptures in Philippians 4 "...for I have learned, that whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." Yet I am anxiously awaiting, in our current state of limbo, for an answer & ask, "Where is your will for us Lord?"
So how does Paul go from being a Pharisee which are known for being prosperous & ultra materialistic to being content with humble means or harsh circumstances in prison? For in this same chapter he admonishes, " Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice." He thinks enough of this statement to confirm it over again with repetition. When I think of this topic of contentment & rejoicing, thanksgiving can't help but flow! We are so blessed with abundance! We have plenty of food & to spare, beautiful property, a thriving business, a fully decorated home, an abundance of clothing & shoes, etc. How can I even think about wanting more, more, more except out of greed & selfishness? Hoarding up material possessions can most certainly be the devil's distraction!
The single change Paul's life points to is Christ. Jesus made the difference in his life & his outlook. Paul seemed to have lived the full spectrum of having a lot & having only a little. His words in these scriptures proves that he had broken his attachment to things. It indeed is more of an internal lesson that I need to learn.
Just last night, our family devotional covered the basis of Matthew 6:33 & the theme was "The most important things in life aren't things." We discussed several scenarios & tried to explain priorities. We each shared examples of things we wouldn't really even miss if we got rid of. The kids soon caught on. They started rationalizing that they would rather toss the rug that was merely for decoration than their beds & soft pillows. We even discussed computers, telephones, alarm clocks, toys, air conditioning, our frequent trips to the local Dairy Queen for ice cream treats, & other such luxuries that we so often take for granted & give no thought to the fact that these are our WANTS & not needs.
Following Paul's example, I too want to grasp that things are just things. There are not even any fancy words for things...just merely your stuff, possessions, & belongings. Oftentimes, things can be lost much faster & easier than you can ever gain them. We know with assurance that these things don't determine our value or worth & that you most certainly can't take any of them with you when you die. Paul had some of the most tremendous ups & downs. Yet, it was never recorded where his more prosperous times were his pinnacle of achievement nor does the Bible refer to him as a failure or a quitter as he finds himself imprisoned. His goal was simply to fulfill what God called him to do & all of those other things were just peripheral, coming & going with no real relevance.
Do I believe that contentment means always willing to settle for mediocrity? Nope! Instead, I see it as being satisfied at whatever place in life God has us at, while trusting that He does have our best interest at heart. We don't have to have everything! We can exercise patience & self control. Do I believe he wants us to not succeed or rather fail? Nope! He sees fit to bless us in His time & according to His will. So as our family plunges ahead into uncharted waters, I am trying to learn these lessons that Paul did and be content in my present circumstances of not knowing what lies ahead, while trusting that God is all knowing & taking me from glory to glory! After all, our life is not measured by our material possessions but rather the only thing that matters is how much of our hearts we allow Him to rein in & possess!
"But seek ye first the kingdom of God,
and his righteousness,
and all these things shall be added unto you." Matthew 6:33
I desire for my family to be of use to God & open to His will! Pray for us as we seek His direction. He knows what's best for us & continues to amaze with His perfect timing!