Living in a prosperous country, it’s easy to get sucked into the mindset of the world. In our society, there is a feverish pursuit of those things which are above and beyond the basics. We like the “extras” and almost think we’re entitled to them. In every area, we are subtly being convinced that the basics aren’t sufficient; that we can’t live without the “extras”. There is an all-out campaign to convince us that the “extras” are responsible for our happiness – or lack of it.
Looking to relocate? We want bigger, nicer and with more amenities. Grandpa’s old farmhouse with the front porch swing and creaky floors wouldn’t be an option.
Going out to eat? Our taste buds are being trained to enjoy only gourmet. One-pot, home style meal around the family table? Nah. Too boring… and a few notches below our taste.
Shopping for clothes? “Designer” is the word. Mom’s old Singer sewing machine isn’t used to dress the family any more. The name on the tag is what matters now.
How about education? Extracurricular activities somehow seem to take center stage for many kids. The 3-Rs? Are they really so important, anyway?
With this inverted value system, many of us are unaware of what the real “extra” in life is: godliness with contentment. The apostle Paul expressed it this way: “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” (1st Timothy 6:6-8 NKJV)
Tracing Paul’s footsteps through the New Testament, we realize that he lived through very diverse scenarios and learned godly contentment. In fact, he wrote to the believers in Philippi: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.” (Philippians 4:11,12 ESV) Paul enjoyed the “extras” at certain times in his life; but his heart was not attached to them. He was set on pursuing Jesus and keeping Him in the center. Then, when life’s “extras” vanished, Paul’s contentment was still intact.
Let’s give kudos to those people, who like the apostle Paul, have learned godly contentment. Whether they possess only the bare basics, if they are blessed with plenty, or if they’ve lost it all, they are content. God grant the rest of us His grace to passionately pursue Him; then with or without the “extras”, we will learn true godly contentment. We will have discovered the only real “extra”!