by Charles R. Swindoll
Contentment is something we must learn. It isn't a trait we're born with. But the question is how? In 1 Timothy 6 we find a couple of very practical answers to that question:
A current perspective on eternity: "For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either" (v. 7).
A simple acceptance of essentials: "And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content" (v. 8).
Both attitudes work beautifully.
First, it really helps us to quit striving for more if we read the eternal dimension into today's situation. We entered life empty-handed; we leave it the same way.
The truth of all this was brought home forcefully to me when a minister friend of mine told of an experience he had several years ago. He was in need of a dark suit to wear at a funeral he had been asked to conduct. He had very little money, so he went to a local pawn shop in search of a good buy. To his surprise, they had just the right size, solid black, and very inexpensive. As he forked over the money, he asked how they could afford to sell the suit so cheaply. With a wry grin the pawnbroker admitted that all their suits had once been owned by a local mortuary, which they used on the deceased, then removed before burial.
My friend felt a little strange wearing a suit that had once been on a dead man, but everything was fine until in the middle of his sermon he casually started to stick his hand into the pocket of the pants . . . only to find there were no pockets!
Talk about an unforgettable object lesson! There he stood, preaching to all those people about the importance of living in light of eternity today, as he himself wore a pair of trousers without pockets that had been on a corpse.
Second, it helps us model contentment if we'll boil life down to its essentials and try to simplify our lifestyle. Verse 8 spells out those essentials: something to eat, something to wear, and a roof over our heads. Everything beyond that we'd do well to consider as extra.
God's Word offers this advice: Contentment is possible when we stop striving for more. Contentment never comes from externals. Never!
As a Greek sage once put it: "To whom little is not enough, nothing is enough."
Great wealth is not related to money.
We are being enriched by our investment in eternity.
Reprinted by permission. Day by Day, Charles Swindoll, July 2005, Thomas Nelson, inc., Nashville, Tennessee. All rights reserved. Purchase "Day by Day" here.