“But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” 1 Timothy 6:8 (ESV)
This verse has been on my mind again the past couple of weeks as the Thanksgiving holiday has come and gone. We had our whole family together with the boys home from college, a great meal with friends, a nice Thanksgiving celebration at church, and our annual tradition of cutting down the Christmas tree. In all that, there is much to be thankful for, above and beyond what we might expect or think (Ephesians 3:20-21).
Then, right after Thanksgiving, we turn the corner and head toward Christmas. Along comes Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and ad after ad after ad of “ad nauseam,” trying to persuade me that what I really need to be content is more “stuff.” Nope, not this year. I’m just not buying it, literally or figuratively.
Contentment is being satisfied, pleased, fulfilled, cheerful and even happy, and it doesn’t come from an abundance of material possessions. It comes from knowing that Jesus, our Immanuel (meaning “God with us,” Isaiah 7:14) has come to earth. Through his life, death, resurrection, and regeneration by the Holy Spirit, we can have a relationship with him today and look forward to an eternity in glory.
1 Timothy 6 also tells us that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils” but that “godliness with contentment is great gain.” Our culture would tell us to love ourselves, our money and our “stuff.” But God’s word tells us it’s not about that. It’s about being content in a secure relationship with the Creator of the universe, knowing He has promised to provide all that we need, both now and for every tomorrow to come until He calls us home to glory.
Being thankful and content from having a secure relationship with God impacts my relationships with others because I can share Christ and His love with them as we interact. For example, two weeks ago, I stopped at a coffee shop to meet with a close friend, as is my habit. Out the door, I stopped on the way to talk to the two shop owners and tell them I'm thankful for them and their shop because it's a warm, welcoming and wonderful place to meet friends and pray together. One of them said thanks and that she needed to hear that encouragement that morning. In another instance, my Honda mechanic, Mike, writes “God Bless You” on my receipts and has told me that he and his staff think I am “one of their nicest customers.” Why? Mike says it’s because I appreciate their work and am interested in them and their families. So I can share a little of Jesus and His love.
So, what about the presents under the tree and stockings for the kids on Christmas morning? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with those, as long as they aren’t the focus. However, the first thing we’ll do on Christmas morning is read the Christmas story in Luke 2. That will be our focus and the thing we look to for contentment. Merry Christmas!