Is It Possible to be Godly Without Being Content? Thoughts inspired by looking back on a Sunday afternoon
“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…. But you,… flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” Timothy 6:6-11
We Want More
I never thought of myself as a greedy, selfish or materialistic person. But recently I realized that while I may not have been all of those things, I was not a content one either.
Dictionary.com defines content as;
“satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else.”
Not only did that definiton fail to describe me, I couldn’t think of anyone I knew that it did describe. I mean really, who doesn’t want more? Who is really satisfied with what they have? Who do you know that looks at their life and can honestly say that they don’t want anything else…absolutely nothing? We live in a country where wanting more is the norm. And debt is how we achieve it. Take a look at some recent statistics that were posted on Creditcards.com.
- Average credit card debt per household with credit card debt: $15,799*
- 609.8 million credit cards held by U.S. consumers. (Source: “The Survey of Consumer Payment Choice,” Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, January 2010)
- Average number of credit cards held by cardholders: 3.5, as of yearend 2008 (Source: “The Survey of Consumer Payment Choice,” Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, January 2010)
- Average APR on new credit card offer: 14.89 percent (Source: CreditCards.com Weekly Rate Report, July 20, 2011.)
- Average APR on credit card with a balance on it: 13.10 percent, as of May 2011 (Source: Federal Reserve’s G.19 report on consumer credit, released July 2011)
- Total U.S. revolving debt (98 percent of which is made up of credit card debt): $793.1 billion, as of May 2011 (Source: Federal Reserve’s G.19 report on consumer credit, released July 2011)
- Total U.S. consumer debt: $2.43 trillion, as of May 2011 (Source: Federal Reserve’s G.19 report on consumer credit, released July 2011)
- U.S. credit card 30-day delinquency rate: 3.3 percent. (Source: Moody’s, May 2011)
With the mortgage and debt crisis that hit our nations economy in recent years, and has so greatly impacted the American people I truly believe that the bell that calls us all to contentment is ringing loud and clear. There is nothing like losing ‘everything’ to cause you to be thankful for anything.
The year we almost lost everything…
In 2002, my family found themselves on the wrong side of a foreclosure. Barely 30 years old, four children, a mortgage, 2 vehicles, and a rental property to boot, it appeared we were finally living the American Dream. But there were things going on that we couldn’t see; we were unaware of predatory lending practices and in 2002 there were no laws against them. We had been allowed to gain a mortgage that had an adjustable rate attached to it and from one month to the next we saw the interest jump 10% and our payment followed. At that point we couldn’t figure out why this was happening to us. We weren’t just products of the American culture, we were victims of a lot of the false teachings in the American church. We had done everything right, hadn’t we? We were faithful in fellowship with other believers and in our giving. So according to the church world, God promised to take give us everything we wanted…the cars, the dream house, the ‘life’ that others envied…right?
But it wasn’t right. We, like so many others had believed the lie of the world. We were christians…my husband was a senior pastor at the time…and we taught the congregation the importance of being/becoming debt-free, but we were not living it. Oh, we had cut up our credit cards and paid them off, but credit card debt is not the only debt. And for quite a few of us (not all) we have accepted the world’s definition of what’s acceptable over the Word’s definition. And we pursue stuff and don’t even realize it…I know I didn’t.
“Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another.” Romans 13:8
When our home was foreclosed on, and the car that was not paid off was repossessed, we were devastated! But why? Why did the loss of these material things matter so much. Why did we experience grief, and tears and what was perceived as public humiliation over the loss of stuff? Why were we ostracised by certain people as if foreclosure and loss were contagious? Because in America it’s more than just stuff. Those things have come to be symbols of blessings, and symbols of God’s favor on our lives. But really? Things obtained largely through debt are a symbol, or the symbol of God’s favor or His approval on our lives? So then, the loss of these things meant what? That God was no longer with us…that we had somehow fallen out of His good graces. This is so well believed in our communities that we have spawned an entire generation that will steal and murder just to get someone elses stuff. We just want more…
Now am I saying that every person that buys a new house or a new car is greedy? Absolutely not. But I am saying that if you remove the false indoctrination that we have been exposed to in this culture, most of us would agree that our needs are more than met. So when does contentment enter in? Contentment enters in when we realize that while this stuff amounts to everything in the world’s economy, it amounts to nothing in God’s economy. It’s just stuff. It carries no eternal value. but our souls do, and we have been taught to sell our souls to this world in exchange for the stuff the world offers. We are trying to gain it all. This is particularly evident with feminist personalities. Women are encouraged to resist marriage and children for the pursuit of a career (Genesis 1:28), the dream car, the travel, the stuff (“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.” 2 Peter 1:3). We have been taught to place greater value on things than on people. We are taught that the life of the unborn is worthless when that life puts the attainment of our worldly pursuits at risk. Who needs a baby when you have a job? Our desire for more, in essence, is our refusal to be content. We have yard sales, and give aways, and we give so much away to charities and drives…we waste so much of what we pay for…but then we go buy more stuff.
Even after we lost our home and our car, I still didn’t get it. (I also didn’t get that those things were not ours…they were owned by the bank!! Which was evidenced by their willingness to claim their property when we could no longer pay the ‘rental’ fee)…My motives were so wrong. Rather than simply appreciating the fact that my family had a roof over our heads and food and heat and water and clothing and shoes …. I was still focused on more… I wanted the bigger house and another car…these were not needs. God had met my needs. But my pursuit of more was me telling God that his provision was sadly not enough. And my pressuring my husband to work harder…to be away from us more and for longer periods of time…and then being angry because he wasn’t around more…simply communicated to him that his provision was not enough, and that I valued the things he provided more than I valued him!! I wanted what the world offered, and I wanted God to provide miraculously while I ‘encouraged’ my husband to work for more of it, and even got into more debt to gain it. So many of my faulty views and misunderstandings of God and His will for His children break my heart when I think about them, not just for me, but because I know that there are still so many people who are still victims of a faulty ideology…so many women who are still slaves to a mindset that promised an illusive freedom…and stole their souls in return.
Today we live in the first home we ever owned. All but one of our four children were born while we lived here, and there are a million and one memories…and endless repairs. It is not the house of my dreams…I don’t have my dream kitchen with the island in the middle…there are six of us and ONE bathroom… and it’s home. We have one car, one house, fewer bills, less debt…and so much more time together. My husband asked me last year if I wanted him to put in more hours at work so that we could afford to move to a bigger house and nicer neighborhood. I didn’t even have to think about my answer! ABSOLUTELY NOT!! I quickly told him that having time with him as well as him being able to spend time with the kids was so much more valuable to me than any big house or another car. Not that I don’t want those things, but I don’t value them more than I value time with him. Where are your priorities? Would you be willing to consider a simpler life if it meant having more time with the ones you love? If money troubles are a key factor in most divorces, isn’t that a sign that our priorities are out of order?
Tomorrow we’ll be back to focusing on Submission…I just wanted to share what was on my heart today….