For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.
1 Timothy 6:7
Grandma kept everything. I found these in her kitchen cabinet when we packed up her house in California. At the time I thought they were neat because of the old advertising. Over the years I’ve realized something a little deeper, more significant about these old containers. It’s a lesson I learned from Grandma. She didn’t know she was teaching me, but she did. Elva was her name and she’s my husband’s sweet grandma from Arkansas.
Elva lived in the rural south during the Depression. Nothing was wasted or taken for granted. She used to tell us that as a little girl if it snowed in Arkansas they would make ice cream from the snow. My husband and I would laugh. It sounded silly to us. But now I get it. When you have very little, you use what you’ve got. Today if I bought some ice cream I didn’t like I would throw it out. That would have never happened during those Depression years. It would have been eaten up with joy.
I have had those spices in a large jar on my kitchen counter for years. I was cleaning it out the other day after an ant problem. Grandma came to my mind once again. She wouldn’t throw away something as precious as cooking spices. It got me thinking about contentment. Am I content with my stuff? Do I want more, and more? Do I need more?
This is the era of disposable electronics, and disposable everything. Get the newest phone, we need it. Get the newest car, we need it. Consume it, get bored with it, and get the latest version of said item. Buy, buy, buy, and buy some more stuff. The lines have been blurred of needs and wants. What does the Bible say about contentment?
“But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” (1 Timothy 6:8, NIV)
Paul wrote these words that God gave him. Is food, shelter, and clothing enough for contentment? I think yes. At least I want to think yes. I wrestle with this concept. Is stuff bad? Well, no. We need to eat, and clothing for our bodies, and a roof over our heads. Beyond that, what do we really need? Not much. But what we want, that’s a whole different story. Wants aren’t bad. Stuff isn’t bad. Where does contentment lie in all that for the Christ Follower?
9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Timothy 6:9-10, NIV)
The verses about contentment and not holding on to our worldly possessions lead to a warning about loving money. We are given a very real warning about the desire to get rich. Some wandered from the faith, pursuing money instead of Christ. This is still happening today. More money, more stuff. Less contentment. The stuff becomes the pursuit. Jesus is taken out of the picture entirely. That’s a big problem for many reasons. One being, all that money and stuff doesn’t go to eternity with us. Eternity. Forever. Not a single thing we have here on earth leaves with us. (1 Timothy 6:7)
Wait a minute. Then why are we so caught up in buying the latest fill in the blank? We don’t take it with us. We use our stuff for the brief time we are here on this side of eternity. Should we be accumulating as much stuff as possible? The whole “you only live once” and “Hey, I’m not taking it with me anyway. I’m going to buy as much as I want, when I want, and enjoy it all now.” Buy the latest and greatest? No. That’s a dangerous path. We already have the warning about that.
What if we were content right now, today, with what we’ve got? Some of us have lots of nice, shiny, new things. Some of us have old, worn out things. We’ve got things we need and things we want. Many of us pray about these decisions. We can thank God for all He has given us and entrusted us with. We can also ask Him to meet our needs.
My pastor used to say, “There are two things we take to heaven. Our character and our relationships.” Words to live by.
We are not to live miserly and hoard our stuff. We are to be generous.
11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. (2 Corinthians 9:11, NIV)
16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (Hebrews 13:16, NIV)
17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? (1 John 3:17, NIV)
What did I learn from Grandma? Be content with what you’ve got. It’s just stuff. We came into this world with nothing and we leave with nothing. Be generous. Be grateful. Don’t pursue money and wealth. Pursue Jesus. Only He brings true contentment.
Love you all,