No, Thanks!

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Please buy our stuff!

Recently a catalog arrived in our mailbox, featuring furniture, dishes, flatware, decorative items for the home, etc.

The best words I can think of to describe this merchandise are gaudy and pricey.

Reminds me of a story my dad told. After a cowboy visited Neiman Marcus department store in downtown Dallas he remarked, “I never knew there were so many things I don’t need.”

The cure for discontent

I’m impressed with these passages from the apostle Paul:

“. . . I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am . . . I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13).

“But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.  If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content” (1 Timothy 6:6-8).

Developing a satisfied soul

In our consumer-oriented culture, does getting more and more make us happier and happier?

Paul was a truly happy man. He said, “I have learned to be content . . . .”

It’s something we must learn.

There’s nothing in that catalog I want.

But there is something you and I would do well to desire.

Contentment.

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Too Many, Too Much?

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Two studies

An excellent recent online article reports on a study done at the University of Toledo where one group of children were observed playing with only four toys, while another group had 16. Researchers observed that the children with fewer toys were more involved in their play than the other group.

The author also observed that children can be quite content playing with cardboard boxes and simple household items.

Conclusion: Parents would do well not only to limit the number of toys they give their kids, but also choose toys that stimulate creativity.

https://offspring.lifehacker.com/why-you-should-stop-giving-your-kids-so-many-toys-1821051616

In a similar vein, it may well be true that for adults, less is more. A speaker I heard on the radio this morning cited a study indicating that a higher percentage of people in materialistic societies were mentally distressed. Should that surprise us?

Biblical values vs. the cultural expectations

Jesus, better than anyone, understood how people think. He said, “. . . not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions” (Luke 12:15).

Paul said, “For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content” (1 Timothy 6:7-8).

Current culture does not encourage contentment, but the very opposite. Advertisers know how to bait the hook, especially around this time of year.

The person who takes to heart what Jesus and Paul taught about possessions not only can distinguish needs from wants, but may also learn how to want less anyway.

The contented person does not say, “I wish I had . . . .”

But instead, “I’m thankful I have . . . .”

It’s all a matter of perspective.

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Through the Eyes of Christ

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Before my time

I remember hearing my dad talk about living through the Great Depression. He and my mother had been married only a couple of years when the stock market crashed in 1929.

Like so many others, they didn’t have much, but they were happy. They had each other, and far more importantly, they had their faith. They learned how to deal with an extremely tight financial situation that dragged on for years.

Most of us were born after the Depression and have enjoyed relative plenty all our lives. Have we come to take prosperity for granted? Do we expect it as our right?

Imagine it!

Suppose a family from the 1930s were suddenly transported to our modern supermarkets and car dealerships. Imagine the look on their faces as they try to comprehend the astonishing abundance as well as the incredible variety of products available. And so much of what we routinely use today didn’t even exist back then.

Theoretically at least, we know we could lose it all someday. And what if we did? Could we deal with it, or would we be emotionally devastated?

The contented life

Christians are in the best position to accept the loss of possessions. Christ Himself traveled light when He walked our earth. He taught the importance of trusting in God for one’s daily bread. He also taught it’s better to give than to receive.

He taught His disciples to lay up treasures in heaven, not on earth (Matthew 6:19-21). He warned against the spiritually fatal tendency toward greed (Luke 12:13-21).

And so if we learn to live by His teachings and look at life through His eyes, we’ll be able to handle financial reverses with greater grace than if we were earthbound materialists (Philippians 4:10-20; 1 Timothy 6:6-10; Hebrews 10:34).

The Christian outlook is, by far, the healthiest way to live!

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When Less is More

Overwhelmed

When I was 13 I found stamp collecting to be both very satisfying and educational.

Then a distant cousin sent me a HUGE collection he had found somewhere. I was thrilled—at first.

After months of sorting, I got burned out. Eventually I sold my collection. It just wasn’t fun anymore.

More, more, more?

On a side note, do our children really need more and more toys and games? Would they appreciate what they had more if they had less? Do they think they have to have what their friends have?

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Do we adults model contentment (Philippians 4:11-13; 1 Timothy 6:6-10; Hebrews 13:5)? Do we teach by word and example that “not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions” (Luke 12:15b)?

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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More Stuff?

What greed can do

A man who did estate auctions told me he has seen a family divide over who would get an item once owned by a deceased parent. He said he used to be materialistic, but after being in this business he now felt he owned nothing he couldn’t part with.

When a man asked Jesus to settle an inheritance dispute, He refused. “Beware,” Jesus warned, “and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions” (Luke 12:13-15).

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A better way to live

A sure cure for what some call “accumulitis” is contentment.

Things can never ultimately satisfy. Only Christ can.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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