Norman B. Harrison,W.E. Vine, Samuel Ridout. With comments by Bob Gessner
Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content(Phil. 4:11). And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content (1 Tim. 6:8). Let your conduct be without covetousness, and be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb.13:5).
We live in an age of unprecedented materialistic prosperity.Materialism breeds covetousness. The more we have, the more we want. The more we see what others can afford, the more we grasp after the same things. One of the most striking features of our daily testimony in this kind of age can be the spirit of contentment. Contentment should characterize every Christian because we ought to have learned that material things can never satisfy.We have a hope that stretches out beyond this age into eternity. The spiritual values which are unseen and eternal far outweigh the things which are temporary and seen.
Norman B. Harrison
The secret of contentment is not in circumstances, for they are shifting. It is in Him, for He changes not. It is in the persuasion begotten by God’s Word that cannot fail, buttressed by the experimental knowledge that He has stepped in and met our need, that He does care for us and will unceasingly “supply all our need,” (Phil. 4:19).Such knowledge, such persuasion, is worth more than millions of dollars. It mints itself into the coin of a contented mind. And a contented mind is a priceless possession. Once a poor rich man, walking over his estates, thinking to inspect the progress of his hired man digging a ditch through his land, found him singing away at his work.As he approached he caught the words:
My Father is rich in houses and lands,
He holdeth the wealth of the world in His hands!
Of rubies and diamonds, of silver and gold,
His coffers are full, – He has riches untold.
“John,” said the rich man, “why are you singing such nonsense; you are a poor ditch-digger.”
“Oh, but it’s true,” was the reply. “God is my Father, and He has given me so much for which to sing and praise Him. Yonder is my little cottage and when my day’s work is done, there stands Mary at the door to greet me with a kiss and I sit down to a bountiful meal. Why shouldn’t I sing for joy?”
Then the poor rich man unburdened his heart: “Yonder on the hill is my mansion; but they do not love me up there. They are only waiting for me to die to get my money. John, I wish I had what you have.”
The Gospel of God’s dear Son offers a rich and ever enriching experience of love and providing care. To know that love and prove that care, day by day, just where life’s circumstances find us, this is the privilege of the Christian. It is a life of joy, peace and contentment beyond compare.
Contentment is a learned characteristic. It certainly does not come naturally for most of us and even as new creatures in Christ, we acquire this spirit through the lessons of life as God allows us to experience the futility of earthly security and gain. How well are we learning this lesson and developing this characteristic?It might be good for all of us to step back and look at our life. Is it a whirlwind of activity because we are so busy accumulating the good things of life? Has our list of necessities for living grown bigger through the years? Do we own more things than ever? Have things which were once luxuries for the rich become essentials in our household?
The”things” of the “good American life” can become so much a part of us without being aware of it. They can rob us of spiritual vitality, of quality time spent in the Word and with God’s people. They can really make slaves of us. Our entire life will soon be gone and we Will leave nothing behind but “things” that have no eternal value. What would really happen if there would arise a generation that would be willing to live in a self-sacrificial manner, existing only with a minimum amount of the daily needs of life? It is exciting to think of the dynamic contribution such a generation would add to the church. They would go against the tide of materialism and pour their resources into the work of God. They would stand out like shining lights to a world that has found no answers in the materialism of this world.
W. E. Vine
But they that desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and hurtful lusts (1 Tim. 6:9).
The word “desire” implies a deliberate grasping after wealth as a dominating object in life. The danger lies in attempting to acquire for one’s own ends more than satisfies one’s needs. There is perhaps a suggestion of various stages in the descent to which the desire leads. To begin with, there is certainly in aiming at the increase of riches a temptation to aim at the acquisition of more, and this carried with it the danger of gaining it by doubtful or unrighteous means, a veritable snare.There is a further snare of being involved in worldly associations. The series now broadens To a variety of foolish and hurtful lusts; foolish because the determination to obtain wealth tends to involve a passionate craving for things undesirable; hurtful because of the injury done not only to the soul but to the body.
Take heed and beware of covetousness; for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of things which he possesseth (Lk. 12:15).
As we look around us today, we see that covetousness is characteristic of the whole world. The word “covetousness” in the original means “having more”. It is not necessarily wishing for what someone else has, but wishing for more than I have; the root of all covetousness is being dissatisfied with what we already have.
Nothing can fill the heart in this world. If you turn to Ecclesiastes, you will find a man who had everything. He was king; all wealth and power were at his disposal, so he had only to make known his desire. What effect did all this wealth, knowledge, power, and pleasure have upon him? It filled his mouth with ashes, as it were; it disgusted him with the whole world. He says: “Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.
Better a little fire to warm us than a great one to burn us. Thomas Fuller