How can we be content in a world full of materialism? As a matter of fact, those of us in the United State are not only surrounded by vast amounts of material wealth, but we are often valued, and value others, solely upon material possessions.

Now, while it is important in our modern society to acquire certain material wealth, should it be the driving force behind everything we do? How much should we sacrifice in order to get the material things that we want? And what are we willing to do or who are we willing to hurt to get them?

In Christian doctrine, we are admonished to exercise restraint and to be content with such things as we have. For example, in Hebrews 13:5 we read “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have; for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”  And, contained within that mindset is thankfulness. By being thankful, we can give attention to those things which we have, and not be consumed with what we do NOT have. Scriptures related to this idea can be found in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Psalms 136, and 1 Chronicles 16:34.

If we look at specific scripture, we find in 1 Timothy 6:6, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” In other words, Godliness with contentment adds something to us that is important to our general well-being. This mind-altering perspective helps reduce or eliminate the anxiety inherent in losing or failing to acquire material things. The Apostle Paul, within the context of his epistle in Philippians 4:11 writes, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” What is amazing about this is that Paul penned this from a Roman prison cell, likely around ad 60. He goes on to say in verse 12, “I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”

The question one might ask is, ‘How could Paul manage to do this, and more importantly, how can I aspire to what Paul the Apostle is teaching us?’ Well, fortunately for us, Paul reveals his source of strength in the very next verse, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” And in writing this, perhaps Paul was reminded of the words of Jesus Christ himself, (be it through the written word or through revelation), penned in John 15:5, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” Paul’s source, his union with Christ, gave him the strength to both live in abundance, and to suffer need. In all these things, he remained content. That in essence was his “secret” to accomplishing everything that he did in life. And such is the valuable lesson we can learn from Paul the Apostle.

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