Learning Contentment: Contentment and Our Response to the Needs of Others.
Read Heb. 13:1-16
“Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have”
Contentment and our attitude towards money go hand in hand for we often view money to be the basis for our security both for the present and the future. When we lack money, we feed our discontentment for, so we reason, if we had more money, we would be able to obtain all the things we desire. Consequently, we become hoarders of money, ever desiring it and always fearful of losing it. In the Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien captures the folly of the love of money when he describes the greed of a dragon, “Dragons steal gold and jewels, you know, from men and elves and dwarves, wherever they can find them; and they guard their plunder as long as they live (which is practically forever, unless they are killed), and never enjoy a brass ring of it. Indeed, they hardly know a good bit of work from a bad, though they usually have a good notion of the current market value; and they can't make a thing for themselves, not even mend a little loose scale of their armor.” We can become like this, every seeking to gain more wealth but never really enjoying it.
The Bible does not condemn the possession of wealth as evil, but rather the obsession with wealth. Christ warns of the danger of placing one’s affections on wealth for it distracts us from the love of God (Mt. 6:24). Paul takes our love for money a step further when he states that it is at the heart of all sin (1 Timothy 6:10). Here, the writer of Hebrews places the love of money in contrast with contentment. This was especially relevant to the readers of Hebrews. Because of persecution, to identify with Christ was to risk losing some or all of their possessions (10:32-34). Therefore, a focus on possessions and being driven by a desire to attain more wealth would tempt them to waver in their commitment to Christ to avoid the loss of their possessions.
To be truly content in life we have to reorient our thinking. Instead of trusting in wealth to provide our security and happiness, we are to rely upon God and trust in his continual presence in our life. One of the reasons we become hoarders of wealth is because we fear the future and we see wealth as our protector. But God reminds us that our security is found in him alone (vs 6) therefore we do not need to fear any loss of our possessions.
Our contentment is not just revealed in our attitude towards our possessions, but also in our attitude towards giving to the needs of others (vs 16). Instead of hoarders, we become sharers. When we are content with what we have and money is no longer the source of our security, we will view it is a tool to be used for the glory of God and the benefit of others. Paul makes the same point when he writes that those who steal must learn to give (Eph. 4:28). People who are content are people who are givers, who are willing to share with those in need in order to build Christ’s kingdom. Because they are already satisfied with what they have, and they are confident that God is with them and providing for them, they are willing to give to others who have need. Do we see wealth as a tool to use for God’s glory and to benefit others, or as a security blanket to protect us from the uncertainty of the future?