Thursday, April 19, 2007

Contentment VS. Progression

Contentment is a key point for Paul the "love of money....root of evil" discourse in 1 Tim 6:10 (see last post).

Paul also says, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." (Phil 4:11-12)

But if you are 'content', is it wrong to desire to progress? Are Contentment and Progression at odds with each other? A lot of today's youth groups and churches would lead Christians to believe so. But contentment is not an excuse to be lazy. Nor an excuse to be ignorant of money.

Contentment is the antonym of greed, the intense selfish and excessive desire for more of something than is needed. Contentment prevents one from avariciously coveting another's possessions. Jesus says to "Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." (Luke 12)

When we spend our money, its directly influenced by our personal level of contentment. Advertisers prey on our feeling of discontentment, that tells us that we need something to be happy. There's that cliche quote that says something like this: “Millions of Americans are buying things they don’t need, with money they don’t have, to impress people they don’t like!”

Being rich is a not sin, but the lust for being rich (greed, coveting, dissatisfaction) is the point at which sin enters in (1 Tim). Contentment is the single most important disposition for the proper use of money.

So what then what motivates you to Progress? And should you even strive to excel and progress? Of course! Competition and a pursuit of excellence is an integral part of the Bible. Here's just a few examples.

*I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:14)

*"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." (Col 3:23)

*"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." (1Cor 10:31)

* Peter talks about possessing good qualities in "increasing measure" so you are not ineffective and unproductive. (2 Pr 1:5-11)

*Jesus says "be perfect." - That will take some striving!

These verses are not just talking about some little piece of you that you can label "spiritual," yet forget the rest. They are talking about ALL of you and whatever you do. Try your hardest, not to accumulate things and satisfy your greed, but because it gives God glory. If you are working or making money "in His Name", you better do your best because you are representing Jesus.

*"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." (Col 3:17)

In many circumstances in America you be rewarded for progressing and the pursuit excellence. If you try your best - at whatever it is - money and blessings often follow. Of course this is not always the case; there are always factors that are out of one's control. But, this is where one's level of contentment is directly tested. Paul was tested repeatedly, and he concluded that he was "content whatever the circumstances" whether in need or in plenty.

In the context of wealth, Contentment with Progression leads to the WISE making and spending of money.

Read the next post: Love of Money...Root of All Evil? Part 2

Sculptures: Rodin's Thinking Man is contemplating his level of contentment above.
During the Golden Age of Greek art, Discobolus pursues the excellence that led to the Olympics.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Does Paul, or Jesus ever describe how contentment can be learned? In my experience, it seems to be that contentment is not a natural human trait.