Welcome to Nick from Christchurch. Today I am looking forward to an insiders view of a school chaplain’s life.
I have been musing as I consider staying alert to the challenge to ‘switch on’ following our How to Be Rich Series. It got me thinking about contentment.
A brief explanation: If I am going to be generous I need to do something really hard, that is, say “no” to myself. And no one likes to be told, “no”!
“No” always involves an appetite. You want it, but no, you can’t or shouldn’t have it. A one word example, chocolate!
With money, we want stuff, status or security. That’s the appetite. To be generous you will need to say no to at least some of that appetite.
But appetites hate the word No, and love the word MORE. You can never fully satisfy an appetite. You get what you have craved and before long you want more.
Appetites are not bad, but they don’t help us make great decisions. In fact appetites catastrophise. It will be a catastrophe if I don’t prioritise more – more for me – more stuff, more status and more security. You’d be a negligent failure to squander those responsibilities, wouldn’t you?
Before a God who gave up his greatest treasure, the feeding of insatiable ‘me’ appetites is a lie. So what to do?
Contentment! Paul wrote, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” That’s novel! Isn’t it discontentment that fuels much of what motivates us?
Contentment is more valuable than the things you acquire to ease your discontentment. Ever made ‘that purchase’ and regretted it? If you could have purchased contentment rather than the thing you bought to quell the discontentment, would you have done it? You see, what we are shopping for is contentment.
The real gain is contentment.
In 1 Timothy 6 Paul warns of the trap lurking in the appetite for more, born of the lie that feeding our discontentment will ultimately give us the contentment we seek. He says, we fall into traps, temptations and addictive desires. We plunge into ruin and destruction. We wander from the faith and pierce ourselves with grief. Ouch!
It’s an old problem. Is it happening to you?
Where does the contentment pathway begin? One word, Awareness. [Switch on!] But it can work for you or against you. When you become aware that your car, stove, wardrobe, curtains or furniture are last year’s, you’re stimulated to upgrade. You and your kids are made aware of their discontentment in every ad and marketing campaign?
As Paul says in 1 Timothy 6, this is a fight. To pursue and embrace contentment is hard work. It comes when we become aware of the false hopes our discontented appetites crave.
Godliness [with contentment] always involves relationship outside ourselves. Youth Equip involves relationship. Days for Girls is about relationship. The Common is people serving in relationship. Art, sewing, worship, learning engage us in relationships beyond our own appetites.
Awareness that giving and serving in relationship will lead towards contentment. . . Now that is great gain.