Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Purpose of Contentment, A Thought...

Last week I was preaching on "Spend Less" as part of our "advent conspiracy" series. The key biblical verse came out of 1 Timothy 6: "But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that" (v. 8). Here's the problem: as soon as I landed on contentment, I didn't stay there, but I moved into generosity. 

That bothered me (and also made finding space for this Sunday's theme, "Give More" a bit more difficult). I've been wondering, Couldn't I just be content with contentment? 

Well, yes. I've written numerous pages and taught or preached countless times on the importance of gratitude and how it leads us to contentment and happiness. I could have certainly camped out in a familiar wood.

But I also realized that I'm particularly concerned at Christmas, that we would be self-centered even in our contentment, that it would become something about soothing my soul, finding my inner peace. And so I, following 1 Timothy 6, I inadvertently moved on to directing those with money "to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share" (v. 18). 

So I missed my target last Sunday and ended up shooting at another bullseye. But as long as I'm there, I'll say this: I hope that, this Christmas, we find both contentment with what we have and generosity toward those who don't have much at all. The amazing truth is that there we will discover deep peace and happiness because I'm sure that's where Jesus will be right there with us.


John said...

i think it's funny that christians complain that stores don't say "merry christmas", but they don't complain that they try to sell us a bunch of crap.

GCootsona said...

Well put.
The greatest threats to our faith is not drugs, or indiscriminate sex, or anti-Christian voices in media, and the like--even though those are real threats indeed-- it's consumerism and its twin, narcissism. As U.S. Christians, we are so often blinded by the way we've been nurtured by the world around us in a sort of gospel of consumerism. Jesus put it bluntly: "You cannot serve both God and mammon."

John said...

"consumerism and its twin, narcissism"


Sam said...

Hi Greg,
I just came across your blog and book recently. My name is Sam and I worked with you at First Presbyterian church in Berkeley many moons ago.
Just want to drop off a note and say hi. I just became a dad and so my priority in life has definitely change, trying to seek a balance.
At a previous job, I was traveling to NYC quite a bit (from 2002 - 2006, would have dropped by at 5th Ave Pres if I knew you were there.