Godliness with contentment is great gain.
1 Timothy 6:6
Ruth Whippman is an accomplished writer, journalist, and documentary filmmaker. She is also someone who has devoted time and thought to the concept of contentment in our twenty-first century. What she’s written makes for a good read. For instance, did you know that in the United States alone, people spend $10 billion per year on books, programs, and techniques that promise to deliver contentment?
This financial pursuit has become so pronounced that marketers have designated a new category for it. They call it Spiritual Spending. “The idea,” writes Whippman, “is that if you just put in enough emotional elbow grease, slog out enough hours of positive thinking, mindful coloring, gratitude-journal keeping, and self-help book reading, you will ultimately be rewarded.”
But then she delivered the bad news. Spiritual Spending has not delivered as promised. Studies reveal that, if anything, people are more anxious and disappointed than ever. And while she does not claim to have all the answers, Whippman does suggest where the problem lies. Increasingly, she says, people are “looking inward into their own souls, rather than outward…” In addition, she notes that “many recent happiness trends, from self-help books to meditation, are designed to be carried out completely alone.”
All of this echoes a foundational Christian truth: I will not find the answer by looking inward because the answer is not in me.
The answer is in a relationship with the one who created us. An early Christian by the name of Augustine once prayed, “Lord, you made me for yourself. Our hearts are restless until we find our rest in you.” God could see how restless and lost our own sinfulness had made us. And so he sent his Son. On our behalf, Jesus sought and found perfect contentment in his relationship with his heavenly Father. Then, in love, he carried our failures to the cross. There he endured the abandonment we deserved. Through faith in him, we not only have full forgiveness, we have him. He is with us each and every day, no matter where our lives take us. Knowing that he has taken care of our greatest need, we can be sure that he will take care of our every need. And we can be content.
Lord, I know that you are with me this day. No matter what it brings, may this make me content. Amen.
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