A regular article written by Phillip Jensen in his role as Dean of Sydney at St Andrew's Cathedral.
10th August 2007
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There are many people in the world who have learned the secret of contentment. Most of them are very poor. They have come to accept their situation. They do not know how anything can be made any better. They are unable to make a difference. They know that there is little point, because they have very few options. It is much harder to be content when you are rich and affluent and your options are many.
The challenge for the wealthy Western countries is to make poverty history, to forgive the massive debts that many developing countries have accrued. The challenge on a personal level is to determine how much we keep for ourselves and our own needs and how much we give away to deserving causes. It is important for Christians to be thinking through our own motivations. Too often we are moved to give a token sum because of a moving picture or an impressive person making the request.
In our current climate of electioneering and financial market fluctuations everyone is keen to maintain a level of security for the future. How are Christians going to be any different from those around them? Those who put their trust in Jesus still have to pay the bills and look after their families. What they do not have to do is keep up with all the latest fads and fashions or put their hope in worldly wealth which is only unreliable. Wealth can become an idol of greed that can draw people away from the faith. The Bible warns us that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils” 1 Timothy 6:10
There are many people who have pursued wealth at the expense of their families, their health and their involvement in their own church community. The more you have the more you have to worry about. There can be panic selling of valuable shares, insurance companies that are unable to make the payments and the threat of theft is ever present, to say nothing of natural disasters and the effects of terrorism.
Our trust should not be in the things we possess, but in God himself.
Learning to be content with the blessings that God has granted to us is an important lesson in life. It is something that we all need to work at. That is why we are told:
“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say,
‘The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?’” Hebrews 13:5-6 (ESV)
At a practical level it will mean that we question the advertising that is all around us. It will mean working out a budget based on our Christian priorities, making sure that we are generous to our own church and to our missionaries. It will mean teaching our children that we are going without certain things so that others can know more about the Lord Jesus. If we are truly his people, we will pursue “godliness with contentment” knowing that it brings great gain, in spiritual terms, not just mere material terms.
We should make it our aim to be able to say with the apostle Paul: “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” Philippians 4:11