A 2014 study released by Media Dynamics, Inc. revealed that the typical adult’s daily media consumption was 9.8 hours a day, exposing adults to 360 ads a day across five major media outlets (TV, radio, internet, newspaper, and magazines). Translation: adults are being told over 2500 times a week that what they own is not good enough, and they need more “stuff.” Advertising agencies capitalize on the fact that people are not truly satisfied by money and material stuff. Their entire sales pitch is centered around the fact that this ONE THING is the “secret sauce” to the discontentment you are feeling. All the while, knowing they will be able to sell you more stuff once dissatisfaction rears its ugly head again.
Have you ever wondered why money and material things are ultimately unsatisfying? Discontentment in the life of a Christian is a very dangerous feeling that must be battled daily. Listen to what the Apostle Paul had to say about contentment in I Timothy 6:6-8, But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. Can I just take a second and complain about not being okay with this verse?! The natural inclination of my heart argues that “food and clothing,” are simply not enough for me. In fact, my heart is convinced that I DESERVE more than food and clothing! I DESERVE anything and everything my heart desires, because I’m… well… I’m ME. I must daily fight the battle in my heart that believes the lie that more stuff with bring me contentment.
As Paul continues, he addresses the mindset of I DESERVE more. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs, (I Timothy 6:9-10). The mindset of I DESERVE more does not end well. It will cause us to plunge… into ruin and destruction. It leads Christians to wander away from the faith. And ultimately, we will pierce ourselves with many pangs. Perhaps the pursuit of satisfying ourselves with money and material stuff is not worth the consequences.
As I struggle through this discontentment in my own life, allow me to offer 3 practices that Christians can implement in their lives that will help you in this daily battle.
- Grow in Financial Wisdom – Many adults are not good with money. They do not know how to budget, nor plan. It is frightening to discover how many adults are unaware of how much money they have in their checking accounts until their debit card is denied because of insufficient funds. If this describes you, seek out a godly individual who will help you make a wise financial plan.
- Pursue Contentment –Try doing the following: (1) take an inventory of what you do have. Next, (2) acknowledge that everything that you own is a blessing from God. He is the one who has graciously gifted you the closet full of clothes and the multiple vehicles that you own. Finally, (3) cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Realize that what you have is overly sufficient for what you need in this life. Be grateful for the closet full of clothes, half of which you never even wear.
- Be Generous – Live open-handed, generous lives. There are two primary ways that you can begin to live such a generous life. (1) Give God the first-fruits of your finances. Throughout the Old Testament, God always required that his people give him the best of everything that they have. The first of the harvest. The first of their time and devotion. Even their first-born child. God is not interested in sloppy seconds, but the best that we have to offer. Every payday, write your tithe check, even if Sunday is several days away. If that’s too antiquated for you, go on-line and tithe to your church right then. Don’t wait until all the bills are paid to decide if you have enough to give to God. (2) Create a line item in your budget called “generosity.” Set aside money each paycheck, and then actively seek ways to bless people.
Money and material stuff will never fully satisfy you, and every Christian struggles with this reality. You are not alone in your daily struggle. However, let me encourage you that the pursuit of contentment in Christ is a battle worth fighting for. For more help, go to https://www.southlakeschurch.org/sermons/2018/2/12/james and click on week 11 for my sermon over this very topic.