Friday, April 1, 2005

Abundance or Contentment?

Paul’s word to Timothy:
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.

But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:6-10)
Paul’s word to the Corinthians:
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)
Contentment or abundance — which one does God want us to have? Actually, it is not either/or but both/and. God wants us to have contentment and abundance. It is not readily apparent in the English texts, but the Greek word behind “contentment” in 1 Timothy 6:6 and “sufficiency” in 2 Corinthians 9:8 is the same: autarkeia. It has to do with an inner disposition about outer circumstances.

The truth is that we cannot understand abundance until we have come to understand contentment. Some people are never satisfied, no matter how much they have. It is this sort of person that Paul is advising Timothy about. They desire to be rich but are never satisfied because they are looking for finances and material possessions to rescue them and make them happy.

But money and things were never designed by God to meet those needs. In fact, when we look to money to rescue us, make us happy, or fulfill us in any way, we have idolized it, making it a god before us. There is only one who can do those things for us, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now, God promises to meet all of our needs. But until we look to Him alone, we will not realize the fulfillment of that promise because we are putting our trust in other gods. That always leads to fear, because fear is the opposite of biblical faith. So, out of fear, we will keep trying to gather more than we need, never having contentment.

The answer to contentment is simple: Trust God to take care of you in all things. “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want [have lack].” His grace is sufficient for every circumstance. Then you will be able recognize the abundance God is placing within your hands to bless others with.