August 13, 2009
“But godliness with contentment is great gain.”
1 Timothy 6:6 (NIV)
My husband went back to school three years ago. It’s been an adventure! We sold our home to lessen our debt load. We moved to a new city, buying a smaller home closer to the university. I worked full-time as a freelance writer the first two years while he attended school full time. Our budget was minimized to the essentials, like food and shelter and tuition! There were many times I was reminded of what we could or could not have, like when I was shopping with a friend who dropped cold hard cash on a purse or shoes, or was invited to join friends at a special restaurant. The money for those things was not in the budget—or the bank!
Have you ever wished for something you couldn’t have? We all have at one time or another, but what happens when it’s something you really can’t have. Like being model tall instead of average height, or a different nose or longer legs, or the pounds to be distributed differently (a little more in the bust and little less in the stomach, please!). Maybe it’s not your body, but your house, your wardrobe, or the car you drive. If only you had ten times more money, then you’d have all you want!
What’s wrong with wishing for what you can’t have?
It can distort your vision as you become fixated on what you don’t have, and fail to see what you do have. It can get scary and mess with your health or your relationships as you pursue quick fixes. At some point it can even become an obsession.
Right now Richard and I can’t jet to Hawaii (or even New Jersey), but watching my husband walk across the stage to receive his degree was priceless. Out of the view of the public he did a dance and his joy was contagious. The sacrifices haven’t ended for us. He’s started over in his career at an age most are settling into success. He’s pursuing his Master’s degree at night. We continue to pay tuition and live on a tight budget. And yet I feel rich with contentment.
How do you avoid distorted vision? The first step is to change your focus. You may not be model tall, but are you healthy? Do you have a circle of friends, or a caring church? Did your child wrap her arms around your neck this morning? Has a friend walked with you through a difficult time? Has the presence of God wrapped around you in your quiet time?
The next step is to focus on others. Something happens when you take the time and energy and thought life previously devoted to your thighs or that beautiful house on the other side of town. You begin to see the needs of others. You find joy in generosity to others. You become others-centered.
Contentment becomes like a new set of contacts or binoculars. Our world expands as we see beyond ourselves and invite God into the picture. It becomes a spiritual act of grace, a work of God in our hearts as we give it all to Him.
Dear Father, Today I will not grumble. I will not compare myself to others. I will praise You for the blessings all around me, and Your song of praise will be the words of my mouth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
The Woman I Am Becoming: Embracing the Chase for Identity, Faith, and Destiny by T. Suzanne Eller
God’s Purpose for Every Woman by various P31 authors, Gen Editors: Lysa TerKeurst and Rachel Olson
Define what contentment is not:
- It is not complacency – it’s not saying “that’s all I’ll ever do or be”
- It is not self-righteousness – it doesn’t come from your own efforts
- It is not repression – it is not staying in abuse, hunger, or harm’s way
Define what it is:
- It is sufficient – pray that God will give you joy to fill the empty places
- It is enough – it is a work within that opens your heart and eyes
- It is to be full – it reveals your true blessings
Are you willing to trade discontentment for contentment?
Start today by making a list of what truly makes you “rich” in Christ.
Psalm 73:25, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.” (NIV)
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G, Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105