I am about to date myself…Do you remember the TV series “Home Improvement?” It aired from 1991–1999 and was one of the most watched sitcoms in the American market, winning many awards. Each week, I looked forward to seeing what mess Tim Taylor would get himself in to. As the clumsy, uncoordinated TV show host of “Tool Time”, Tim Taylor (who was played by Tim Allen,) would get himself into hot water all the time, either with his wife, his kids or the flannel sporting co-host, Al Borland. After each fight, Tim would find himself in the backyard looking over the fence for his neighbor Wilson to get some sage advice and wisdom. And all the time, Tim would walk away with a new perspective on the circumstance. Wouldn’t that be nice to be able to tidy up our mess in the span of 30 minutes?
As we delve into this Thought for the Day, I think many of the messes we find ourselves in, are actually a result of looking over the fence. Unlike Tim Taylor, when we are looking over the fence at what other people possess, we can set ourselves up for trouble. When I was in college, any class that I took that dealt with Marketing was always a favorite! It continually amazes me how a slogan, TV commercial or catchy jingle can move people from not even being aware of a product, to absolutely having to have it…But consumers need to be aware and understand the power that marketing has on our buying decisions. We need to be wise and avoid “Keeping up with the Joneses.”
Let me ask you…Are you content with your life?? Or what I really want to know, are you content with what God is doing in your life? Let that permeate your spirit for a moment and be honest with yourself. If you answered no, then you are not alone, I have struggled with this myself so many times; not being content with the speed of paying off debt or building up of my savings or that the process is so hard. This has led me to get so focused and consumed that at times I lose sight of my peace and joy. I heard a great message from Dr. Tony Evans a while ago called “Reversing the Financial Curse”, he said:
We all want to be financially stable and have some margin between us and life. To be able to have more money at the end of the month than bills and to even be able to enjoy life a little but we need to learn contentment when things do not happen as quickly as we would wish. Speaking from experience, I want to encourage you that as you are working on achieving Financial Peace, by building some cushion in your finances, a.k.a. an emergency fund, DO NOT let that become your “source” of security. Remember that God is the source, and the emergency fund is just a resource. It is important that we build an emergency fund, as financial expert Dave Ramsey teaches, but do not treat God as a resource to get a larger emergency fund…understand that HE is the source. Trust in Him to be your provider and not on yourself, your bank account or your 401K. To read more on this, check out a previous post called…★ Thought for the Day – Where Does Money Come From? ★
Charles Stanley’s “Handbook for Christian Living” has some about great insight about contentment and trusting in God’s Provisions. He talked about Paul’s imprisonment and quoted Philippians 4:10-13:
“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance 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.”
Charles Stanley put it this way, that “Paul learned the secret of being content in and through circumstances. It wasn’t the secret of changing – or getting God to change – his circumstances. Paul meant I can endure any circumstance without losing my peace and my joy because of the strength I gain through my relationship with Christ.”
According to Dr. Stanley there are 3 truths to have contentment:
- Contentment hinges on what’s happening inside us not around us. When we become discontented, the first two things we lose are our peace and joy. But the bible teaches that peace and joy are fruits of the Spirit. As long as our contentment can be destroyed by a change in our environment, we can never be content in any circumstance.
- Contentment is need, not want oriented. God will meet our needs; He is going to take care of us. Much of our discontentment stems from not getting what we want. God has not promised to meet our wants but our needs. He goes on to say, ask yourself this question: Is God meeting my needs? If the answer is yes, stop and thank Him. Don’t allow your emotions to attach themselves to your wants.
- Contentment is trusting God even when things seem out of control. Discontentment on the other hand, is really a lack of faith in God’s love and concern for us. Philippians 4:19 says “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” When things around Paul fell apart, he kept trusting God. And consequently Paul was content.
He went on to say, if you look at the flip side of contentment that is Dis-contentment. “Discontentment clouds our decision-making process, making it almost impossible to wait.” The emotions that accompany discontentment are so strong that they often override reason. People in marketing understand this all too well. Just think about it, part of any effective advertising campaign is to make potential customers discontented with their existing product. These feelings that accompany discontentment are enough to make people buy things they don’t need or can’t afford. Dave Ramsey made this hysterical statement,
“We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like.”
Keeping up with the Joneses is futile and can steal our peace and joy. Dave Ramsey teaches in his Financial Peace University class that we need to develop the “power over purchase.”
“You can buy FUN but you cannot buy HAPPINESS. Happiness is contentment where you are right now.”
I love that. “Happiness is contentment where you are right now.” And James MacDonald said,
“Contentment is a wall you build around your joy to protect it.”
If we could grasp the truth behind these two quotes, we would be happier, and would have more peace and security. Sometimes though, it’s not just about wanting as nice of a car as your neighbor, but rather, the fear or anxiety of keeping a roof above your head and food on the table. Whenever I have seen Hebrews 13:5 quoted, it is always the second half of the verse (see the underlined portion below), but it is interesting to see the first part in context.
“Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said,
‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.’” Hebrews 13:5
Context is everything! Could God, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit be trying to convey a spiritual truth that we can trust Him in our finances? Most definitely yes! When we love money and are NOT content with God’s provision, only trouble will result, replacing peace and joy with anxiety and fear. Philippians 4:6 (NASB) says,
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
Steven Furtick made this profound statement about this verse…
“One of the reasons we’re so anxious about what’s coming, is because we’re not thankful enough for what we have. And so Paul says if all you ever pray about is what you need but never stop and thank God for what you have, you’ll always be anxious.”
Verse 7 of Philippians goes on to say,
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
We all want the “peace of God” in verse 7 but to get that, we need to first go through verse 6, and be thankful for what God has provided for us. It is all about having the right perspective with our priorities aligned with God’s. Proverbs 30:7-9 (NLT) is one of my absolute favorite verses on this subject.
“O God, I beg two favors from you; let me have them before I die. First, help me never to tell a lie. Second, give me neither poverty nor riches!
Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name.”
How different would our lives be if we embraced this wisdom? Do you know who is the wisest human being that ever lived? No, it is not our president or any other modern-day leader. It is not Dr. Phil or Oprah or any other celebrity. The wisest man who ever lived was King Solomon. His Wisdom is described in 1 Kings 4:29-30 (NIV1984)
“God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore. Solomon’s wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the men of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt.”
So if the source of his Wisdom is from God, then he must have some good advice when it comes to contentment right? Look at what the wisest man has to say Ecclesiastes 2:4-11 (NLT)
“I also tried to find meaning by building huge homes for myself and by planting beautiful vineyards…I built reservoirs to collect the water to irrigate my many flourishing groves. I bought slaves, both men and women…I also owned large herds and flocks, more than any of the kings who had lived in Jerusalem before me. I collected great sums of silver and gold, the treasure of many kings and provinces…I had everything a man could desire! So I became greater than all who had lived in Jerusalem before me, and my wisdom never failed me. Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure…But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.”
Wow! That is an eye opener…Look at that underlined part…Solomon “had everything a man could desire!” And in the end he concluded that accumulating possessions was “meaningless—like chasing the wind.”
And the reason being is what Howard Dayton said,
No amount of stuff is going to give you contentment or fulfillment. Do you want to know what is the antidote is to discontentment? Helping others! Hebrews 13:16 (NLT) says,
“And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.”
So the next time you are looking over the fence, look at how you can help your neighbor, instead of coveting their possessions, because God desires our priorities to be in alignment with His…It’s the people in the big houses that are important not what’s in it. 1 Timothy 6:6 gives us this promise,
“Godliness with contentment is great gain.”
As you move further along on the journey, keep these thoughts on the sticky side of your brain so that when the enemy rushes in with his lies, you can combat him with the truth which Proverbs 3:5-10 so perfectly reminds us…
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones.
Honor the LORD from your wealth and from the first of all your produce; so your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine.”
Keep pressing on and looking up, to “THE ONE” who will help you reach Financial Peace! God Bless!
If you are interested in learning more about managing your finances God’s way, check out this post called…★ Thought for the Day – Marriage & Money – Part 1 ★.
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