“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” James 4:1
There’s one word that summarizes the hopes and dreams of most North Americans – More. Hardly anyone’s contented. Nearly everyone wants more. We live for more. We’re obsessed with more. We never seem to have enough, and what we do have soon becomes commonplace. So we live for stuff that’s bigger and better than before. For even though we know better, we’ve convinced ourselves that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.
You know what I’m talking about. We’re consumers by nature, passionate in our pursuit of the latest luxury, a better house, a faster computer. Every instinct, every impulse cries out, MORE! GIVE ME MORE! In actuality, even when we have everything we need, the voice of consumerism keeps telling us we need more.
But here’s the rub. Discontentment, this business of wanting more, is an obstacle to knowing Christ.
Now you might say that’s okay, but personally I think it’s better to know Christ than to be discontented. Which raises a question. If discontentment is an obstacle to knowing Christ then how does one deal with discontentment? The answer: Learning to be content whatever the circumstances (cf. Philippians 4:11).
When I say that the answer to discontentment is learning to be content whatever the circumstances I’m not saying we should never want something or shouldn’t enjoy a purchase here and there. I’m not promoting asceticism. The problem isn’t how much stuff a person may have. The problem is whether or not a person is controlled by the passion to consume. For contentment is being satisfied in something beyond the material. More specifically, it’s being satisfied in someone, in the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s seeing Christ, and Christ alone, as our sufficiency. And it’s the practical outworking of the reality that in having Him, we have it all.
God’s Word brings it into focus. “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs … Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” 1 Timothy 6:6-10,17.