“Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for He has said, ‘I will never fail you nor forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:3
Do you remember your first job? Do you recall what you were paid? I do. My first job was at Rosemont Grocery, a little, full-service grocery store, originally on the outskirts of town but long since having been swallowed up by an ever-growing Lexington. It was across the street from where we lived, and I had been going there on errands for a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk ever since we moved to that house. The owner and clerks knew me and had watched me grow up to some degree. It was just natural, I suppose, that when they wanted another sack boy, I was it. I was paid $1.10 an hour, and during the summers when I could work more hours I took home $24.10 a week.
A few months after I began working there another friend of mine got a job at Kroger, the big chain grocery store. Now I don’t know what his hourly wage was, and I don’t know how many hours he was working. Come to think of it I don’t even know if he was telling the truth, but he said he took home $80 per week. $80! I can remember thinking, “what would you do with all that money? How could you possibly spend $80 per week?”
Suddenly my weekly income seemed inadequate. “If only I could reach that level I would have no more worries! Life would be easy when I made $80 per week.” Well I surpassed $80 per week at some point, only to discover that if I made $100 per week (triple figures!!) life would be easy. Having reached that level, I discovered a new level of desire. Nothing ever seemed quite enough. I was always dissatisfied. I had fallen in the trap of always wanting a little bit more.
The principle at work here is called discontent, and it can affect every avenue of life. Money, relationships, career, health, etc. Discontent invites you to focus on what you do not have, makes you believe that something else will satisfy you, and forces you to miss what God has given you.
The result is you are always straining, straining to make something of yourself. Straining to get more. Straining to justify yourself or feel more important. It comes in a number of expressions, but the result is always the same. Being discontent means missing out on the joy that God has placed right before you.
The Biblical antidote to this spiritual malaise is called contentment. Verses are sprinkled through the Bible. We find it in Philippians 4:11-13 where Paul wrote that he had learned to be content and to trust that in Christ he can do all things necessary.
A very interesting appearance of this theme is from Solomon. First, in Proverbs he wrote, “the fear of the Lord leads to life, then one rests content, untouched by trouble” (19:23). Sounds great doesn’t it? I don’t think Solomon stayed with that wisdom. In his darker days of Ecclesiastes he wrote of the man who is never satisfied with riches (4:8), and that a man of wealth may not have the power to enjoy his wealth (6:2). It sounds autobiographical.
The key is found in Hebrews 13:5: “Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never fail you nor forsake you.’” Focus on stuff and you will always want a little bit more. Focus on God and you will wonder at the abundance of His blessings.
Of course, God is what you always needed. You just did not realize it. Perhaps you will one day reach the spiritual contentment of the anonymous author who wrote:
"Once it was the blessing,
Now it is the Lord.
Once it was a feeling,
Now it is His Word.
Once the gift I wanted,
Now the Giver own.
Once I sought the healing,
Now the Healer alone."
Discontent knows no economic ceiling or floor. You can have a great deal or very little and be discontent. God can free you from the curse of always wanting a little bit more. And in that state you will find the grace of being content.
Dr. Terry Ellis