A dear relative of mine recently went through a long period of debilitating health problems. During this time, she resigned from her executive position with a large company, because she felt that her stressful working conditions were contributing to her declining health. Though this period of joblessness was very difficult for her, she took comfort in the fact that her health was steadily improving. She told me how she had learned to appreciate her health more, and how her trials had helped her to focus less on her career and finances, and more on the things in life that were really important. When a prestigious company sought to hire her, but offered her less money than she felt she deserved, she began to think about her many years of schooling, and her work-related achievements, and suddenly her career and finances became her main focus once again. I tried to remind her of the new perspective she had gained as a result of her long illness, but she was unreceptive. A few days later, a routine medical exam revealed that she had a high risk of developing a life-threatening disease in the future. Once again, she experienced a major change in her values and priorities.
A few years ago, my husband, Joe, was laid off from his job of almost 20 years. He had loved his work, but he lamented the fact that he had always been underpaid. He said that he would settle for a job he didn't like, if only he could make a lot of money. Within a few weeks, Joe was offered--and accepted--a high-paying job with a big company. He was making more money than he ever had before, but the work was tedious and unchallenging. Joe was miserable, and found himself missing his old job. A year later, he was laid off from his high-paying position, and he accepted a lower-paying one at his old company. Now Joe often mentions how much he misses his high-paying job. I try to remind him of how miserable he was there, but he seems determined to focus on the large paychecks he once had, rather than on the satisfying work he's doing at his present job.
When we read the Bible accounts of the children of Israel, and how they never seemed to be satisfied with the blessings of God, it's easy for us to think--"Nobody could please these people!" But how often are we guilty of the same attitudes? The Bible has a lot to say about contentment. One reason for this is that being content is a good way to avoid loving money or being greedy. Solomon wrote: "Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless." (Ecclesiastes 5:10 NIV) John the Baptist said simply, "Be content with your pay." (Luke 3:14 NIV) This doesn't mean that we should never want to make progress, or to increase. It means that we should be led by God's Spirit in these matters, and not driven by our fleshly desires. The apostle Paul often spoke about the importance of being content. He wrote: "But godliness with contentment is great gain . . . People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap, and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." (1 Timothy 6:6-10 NIV) Giving money too much importance will lead us away from God, and into sin. The Lord wants to be our Provider, and He wants us to look to Him for all our needs. He takes it personally when we are so dissatisfied with our situation, that we neglect to count our blessings. Paul said, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." (Philippians 4:11 NIV) He also wrote, "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation." (Philippians 4:12 NIV) Notice that Paul used the word "learned." God had to teach him how to be content at all times, and He will teach us too, if we'll let Him. Paul's "secret" to contentment is revealed in the following verse--"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13 NKJV) As we lean on the Lord, and cooperate with His plan to make us more like Christ, He will give us the grace we need to maintain an inner peace and contentment in every situation we face. May this promise from God encourage you today--"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you"! (Hebrews 13:5 NIV)
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for the times I've refused to be content with the blessings You so richly and regularly bestow on me. Give me a godly desire to progress and prosper, but help me to wait for Your will and timing. Teach me to look to You for all my needs, and guard me from a love of money. Thank You for teaching me the secret of being content in every situation!
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