Having grow up in a upper middle class family with practically all my wants, and especially all my needs met, I must confess I have a tendency to be “contentment” averse. The passion for more and more seems to run deep in my veins, as I aspire to greater influence, presitage and position. Jesus never condemned his followers for seeking to be the “greatest of all” He just warned against the path chosen. He knew all too well the highway to more races by the “road less traveled” that leads to true greatness, contentment and godliness. Yes, the narrow path to life is rarely seen from the front seat of a sports car racing headlong af full speed ahead. No, the narrow path to contentment emerges for those who slow down enough to notice a footpath in the dirt winding away toward a distant destination that cannot be seen even after taking the first few steps down the path.
Paul spoke of “learning the secret of contentment” in an age that lived for much closer to the margins of life than those of us who grew up under the neon lights of the American Dream, which has really turned out to be more of a nightmare than dream for most of us caught up in its death grip. Immanuel Kant observed: “Give a man everything he wants and at that moment, everything will not be everything.” Isn’t sad, when even the blind see better than many of us who seek to walk close to the Creator of all things. In contrast, A.W. Tozer observed: “The man who has God for his treasure has all things in One.” It sounds and ring true, yet so hard to attain in the flesh that wars against the Spirit.
So where does one learn the “secret of contentment”? At the feet of Jesus obviously but what path does He take to teach this vital lesson. It seems that the path leads down the path of “giving away” and “pushing away.” Giving changes the heart, and frees one from the grip of greed. Is it any wonder Jesus advised the rich young ruler to give it “all” away and to come follow Him. Jesus knew as long as the young man held on to his possessions, his possessions had a death grip on him, his heart and soul. The demand seems outrages to us who seek to find fulfillment in the things of this world, which only reveals how blind we really are. Show me a generous man or woman and I will show you someone taking the early steps toward contentment.
In addition to “giving away” those treasures entrusted to your stewardship, we also must learn to “push away” the things that lure us away from simple joy and peace in the things of God, His quiet presence, and a joy not tied to entertainment. Push away those things that distract. Push away this “cotton candy” of distracting and numb entertainment, for the true intimacy of being in relationship with God even when heaven is silent. Our enemy, plus the imposer of our flesh urges us to seek happiness instead of joy, entertainment instead of peace, busyness instead of being still, static and noise instead of quiet reflection and prayer.
Let’s covenant together to seek the secret. Let’s stop robbing ourselves of life as it was meant to be chasing after the fantasies of our secular culture. Slow down, give more, listen more, love deeply, pray, mediate on the words of Jesus and His lifestyle while learning the secret from the master, and the lover of your soul.