11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 (ESV)
We all love stuff.
I mean, really love it.
Not the kind of love that is really just “fondness” masquerading as love, we truly love stuff!
In fact, most of us will spend our entire lives trying to get more, better stuff.
As a kid, I would want to take up a new hobby just to get more stuff. My mom and dad would refuse to buy me some stuff and I was not happy about it. I would daydream about the day that I could literally buy every toy out of every gumball machine I came across. Now as a parent, the free toys that come in the occasional happy meal doesn’t even make it in the house. I throw them away…such irony.
In fact, most of the media that we willingly subject ourselves to is pushing the stuff that we don’t have but really should.
Better hoses for our house, because it’s just too much work to roll up the rubber hose we already have.
New medications for new diseases that will make our life worth living again (unless it kills us with some random side effect).
A new car that will not get you somewhere any faster, but you will feel more stylish even if you can’t afford to go out to eat for the next 5 years.
A new house that will do the exact same job of keeping you warm (or cool) and dry but this house just “feels” more like home, even though you will have to work 8 more years to afford it after retirement.
…and on and on and on.
What you don’t get with any of the things we can put on a credit card? Contentment.
In fact, most of these things actually have the opposite effect and make us LESS content!
This is what God has been promising those who follow Him and love Him since the beginning of creation.
Eve wasn’t content, so she ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam knew that if Momma wasn’t happy, nobody was happy, so he did too!
The nation of Israel was never content so they chased after kings and wealth and other gods that would do an even better job of making them content, but they never were…
…and neither are we when we chase after the same things.
This is one of the reasons that people leave their faith in Christ. They don’t realize that Jesus is the answer to contentment, they believe He is just a piece so they add Him in with all the other “stuff” that they are really hoping will make them happy.
James says that we will be content even when everything is going horribly wrong because, after all, trials will ultimately make us even more content, stripping away the things that have always made us discontent.
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2–4 (ESV)
In fact, as I mentioned last Sunday, the Bible is full of admonitions that one of the greatest gifts of dying to yourself and loving God is the key to true and eternal contentment.
4 Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4 (ESV)
55 “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Isaiah 55:1 (ESV)
11 And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. Isaiah 58:11 (ESV)
31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:31–33 (ESV)
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! Matthew 7:7–11 (ESV)
18 And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. Mark 4:18–19 (ESV)
13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13–14 (ESV)
17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Romans 14:17 (ESV)
10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:10–13 (ESV)
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 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. 10 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. 1 Timothy 6:6–10 (ESV)
17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. 1 Timothy 6:17–19 (ESV)
17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. James 1:17 (ESV)
5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5–6 (ESV)
We engage in all kinds of behaviors that try to mask our discontent…
binge watch the next big season of ‘whatever’,
go on a shopping spree,
drink too much, eat too much, smoke, do drugs,
get really focused on a politician as our hope for a better future,
and so on.
Sometimes, as Christians, we mask our discontent with self-loathing. We try to “fix” ourselves by being better, following better, reading more scripture, praying more, going to church more, telling ourselves how aweful we are to prove we love Jesus. Even these things that seem to make us more focused on Jesus are really just masking the reality that we just don’t feel content.
Instead, Jesus is the treasure. He is the joy of life. Jesus is the answer to contentment that we are willing to deny ourselves, die to ourselves, because He is so worth it.
What you are really looking for is the contentment that Jesus is offering outside of our capitalistic free-market system. Don’t give in to the enemies’ trap to believe that you need more stuff to be happy.
In all reality, less stuff is a better answer than more.