What do we do if we do not participate in the pursuit of more but we still struggle with enough? In this week’s talk we were reminded how stuff does not bring happiness. Instead, we heard how our relationship with Jesus and people brings true wealth.
When my husband and I decided that we would be a one-income family before we had kids, we had to make some financial decisions that would allow us to do so. One big one was determining what are our wants and our needs. It turned out that I can do without a lot. And being one to go against the grain, I purposely never had any desire to keep up with the Jones’. I also get particularly impertinent when I am told I have to have something. “Um, NO, I don’t.”
I wish that not being materialistic would mean that I’m extremely giving. However, I can be stingy with the money I do have and I can be stingy with my time and my heart. This is what it looks like when my eyes are on what I perceive to be mine instead of on the Lord. Paul tells Timothy (and us), “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” 1 Timothy 6:6-8 NIV
How can we be content but not complacent? How can we still strive to do better – spend more time with God, give more, volunteer more, love more but still be content?! Paul commands us to “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:11-12 The two commands sound contradictory to me. How do I reconcile this in my mind and life?
Amanda reminded us in October that “spiritual work is hard.” This is not a one and done. I need to practice being content, starting with being grateful what God has provided for me. Other ways for me to practice generosity are tithing, regular giving to other causes, volunteering my time, and spending time with friends and family. I think, at the same time, I can be praying about how God wants me to use my gifts for Him. I can be content in what He has given me and at the same time strive for what He wants me to do for Him.
I was listening to Christian radio yesterday and several quotes “just happened” to go along with this contrary practice. Biblical Scholar Frederick Dale Bruner said that, “The Christian faith is bipolar. Disciples (us) live their lives between worship and doubt; and trusting and questioning; and hoping and worrying.” John Ortberg added, “Disciples are not people who never doubt. They doubt and they worship. They doubt and they serve. They doubt and they help each other with their doubts. They doubt and they practice faithfulness. They doubt and they wait for one day, when their doubt turns into hope.
Amen! Here is to the bipolar exercise of contentment and fighting the good fight. If you missed this talk or the first one in the Enough series, you can find them here.