Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” -Hebrews 13:5
The Comparison Game
Finding contentment in today’s culture is not easy. We aspire to keep up with the Joneses…or even outdo them. With modern advertising and social media, it is becoming even more difficult to be content with what we have. It’s hard NOT to compare our lives to others.
Personally, I have been guilty of valuing created things above God at times, and have even been jealous of others because of their money or possessions. It's not wrong to want or have nice things, but it shouldn't be our focus, and it shouldn't be where we place our hope.
"If I have THAT, my life will have meaning. I'll have value and feel significant and secure." THAT—is the object of your worship.— Timothy Keller (@timkellernyc) January 24, 2016
The Contentment Trap
When we place our hope in "things" instead of God, we fall into a contentment trap. We think that we'll find contentment once we achieve a certain personal milestone. Have you ever found yourself thinking, “If I could just get that (job/promotion/degree/house/car/etc.), I would be happier”? But what usually happens when we achieve that milestone? We want more. The reason: we're placing our hope in things that will never fully satisfy or bring true contentment.
So, how can we “be content” as Hebrews 13:5 instructs us to do? I believe the answer is found in the second half of the verse; God will never leave us or forsake us. We have the creator of the universe with us always! What more could we want?
The Secret to Contenment
So the secret (although not really a secret) to contentment is this: True and lasting contentment comes from knowing that we are eternally His. That’s why Paul says he has learned to be content whatever the circumstances (Philippians 4). He knew in the deepest part of his being that God is with him always, and he will never be alone. What could we ever acquire that is better than that?
For more on learning to be content, check out this excellent post from the Institute for Faith, Work, & Economics: Learning Contentment.
Think of it this way: if you lost ALL of your possessions, but you still had Jesus, would He be enough?
Do you find yourself comparing your life to others? What is the object of your worship? How can you learn to be content no matter the circumstance?
Ben Malick, CFA, CKA