My Musings – Can one be Godly without being content? Or, content (really content) without being Godly? I cannot imagine the first, and find it hard to imagine the second. Paul measured his contentment by being satisfied with the bare necessities of life, food and clothing. Apparently he modeled his contentment after the Master (who owned no place to lay His head), as he did not even list a place to stay as a requirement.
Why would Paul be content with Godliness? Food, clothing, possessions – we’ll leave this world with none of these. Godliness, character, fruits of the Spirit – they’ll come along for the ride. These are treasures to “lay up” for ourselves. Treasures in “clay jars.“
My Advice – What are you working for? Will it bring contentment? Or once you have it will you find yourself asking “is that all there is?” Don’t become addicted to “things,” that only leave you craving your next “fix.” Pursue the only way to Godliness with content – a relationship with Jesus Christ.
My Musings – Like most “sound bites” from the Scriptures it is important that this verse be read in context so we do not read into “do everything,” what was not intended. Paul has just finished saying that he has learned the secret of being content whatever the circumstances (and boy has he been through plenty of circumstances), whether in need or in plenty. What Paul is actually saying is that he has strength to face all these things, through Christ who provides the strength. Elsewhere, Paul recounts being told by Christ that His grace is sufficient.
My Advice – This is not just a Paul thing. God’s grace is sufficient for all of us no matter what the circumstances. The problem is, we frequently do not draw the strength from Him, preferring to tackle things on our own. Draw from His strength. The “well” never runs dry.
My Musings – We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. – Preamble to the Declaration of Independence.
God gave us life and liberty (freedom to make our own choices). The pursuit of happiness is a bit more problematic. Man has a tendency to find (or think he can find) happiness in all the wrong places and with all the wrong things. More often than not, these rob us of the very thing we are pursuing. We would be better off pursuing joy (which is not dependent upon things or circumstances) rather than happiness (which usually is dependent upon things or circumstances).
Better yet, as the above verse states, we should pursue righteousness and love, which results in life, prosperity and honor. We need to remember, however, that an abundant life is more about quality than quantity, lasting prosperity has little to do with an abundance of “things” (which moths and rust can destroy) and honor has more to do with our character than it does with how much fame an adulation we can achieve. And how ironic it is, that when we get it backwards (we pursue long life, prosperity in things and honor absent humility), righteousness and love (and happiness) often eludes us.
My Advice – Let’s make sure what we pursue is not only worth the chase, but is also worth catching.
Hebrews 13:5, 6 – Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (NIV 1978)
My Musings – We have because God has given it to us. We do not have, because God has not given it to us. Either way we can and should be content. Because God will never leave us or forsake us.
My Advice – Work hard to achieve and attain, but do not let it consume you. Be content with however God blesses you, whether with much or little.
Isaiah 26:3 – You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You. (NIV 1978)
My Musings – There is a lot of talk about peace today, but only God can give a true peace that will last.
My Advice – Do not waver in your trust in God. It will give you peace in your heart and a sense of calm that cannot be explained, even in the most difficult situations.
Ecclesiastes 7:10 – Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not wise to ask such questions. (NIV 1984)
My Musings – We can learn from the past, to help us live in the present, not to relive the past successes or repeat the past failures.
My Advice – Do not live in the past (thinking they were better) or dwell on the past (regretting mistakes made). The past is the past, the “present” is a gift.
Ecclesiastes 5:19 – When God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work – this is a gift of God. (NIV 1984)
My Musings – Pursuing joy, happiness and contentment are more likely to result in wealth than the other way around. God knows that those who pursue the former at the expense of the latter are more likely to be good stewards of the latter. On the other hand, those that pursue wealth at the expense of joy, happiness or contentment are more likely to not find the latter even if they achieve the former.
My Advice – Should you find wealth, enjoyment or happiness wherever life takes you, give thanks to God for His gift. If you find all three, you are truly blessed. Few find wealth and are able to enjoy it and be happy.