My daughter is 24 and really smart, very well read. She knows vocabulary words well beyond her years and her life experience. Books can do that for you. Yet, she asked me the other day about the Re-view mirror in my car.
“The RE-view mirror.”
“Do you mean the rearview mirror?”
RE-view is what she heard as a child strapped into the back seat of Mommy and Daddy’s car. It made sense to her mind. It’s the mirror you look in to see what just happened.
By now you have weathered all the ‘year in review’ programs that the media dishes out. You have already made, and maybe reneged on your New Year’s resolutions. If not, good for you.
I find myself thinking about contentment vs. discontentment. Look back on your life. How has discontentment served you? Has it made you unhappy? Fearful? Miserable to be around? Maybe it has motivated you to try harder, to achieve greater things, to improve yourself.
Discontentment is not a bad thing. But the world uses it to manipulate you. Good teachers know they can’t teach unless the learner is discontent with their ignorance. Great teachers know how to create discontentment and then to fill it with new capacity, and greater knowledge. No one has truly learned anything unless they can use new knowledge to do new things. Learning is the losing of limitations.
Salesmen can’t sell and up-sell you unless they can find your area of discontentment and fill it with whatever they are selling. You won’t shell out for a new car if you are content with your current car. You won’t buy new shoes if you like the ones you already have. Sowing seeds of discontentment is skill number one for successful salesmen.
Mostly this world wants you to acquire a thing or an experience, usually at some monetary expense, to make you feel more important, more safe, or more loved. If you understood that you are already important, already safe, and already loved, then the appeal of the item or the experience may greatly diminish.
There is a word of wisdom that says, “Don’t let the world press you into its mold.” The world promotes discontentment. It’s not enough to replace a broken cell phone anymore. Tech companies want you to trade it in and upgrade your working phone to the most current model. The fashion industry wants you to buy this year’s colors and styles. Somehow Amazon presents me with an article about things that are “must haves” when yesterday I did not even know they existed.
Here’s a word to the wise, next time a sales person tries to sell you something, tell them you are already content and stick with that attitude. Watch and be amazed at how it affects the sales pitch.
Whether you believe God loves you and wants you to love God back or not, learning and practicing contentment can help you live life better in this coming year than you did in your past years. Your garage and closets will be less cluttered. You won’t need to pay for that extra storage. Your credit card bills might become so small that you can easily pay them off every month without ever needing to pay an 18 percent finance charge again. You’ll have more money available to pay off the loans that are hanging around your neck and interrupting your sleep.
You will get along better with the challenging people in your life, you’ll handle pain better. You’ll smile more. Your blood pressure will go down. Learn to be content. Practice contentment.
If you are willing to combine godliness with contentment then – all the better. A smart and wise man named Paul who took great risks his whole life for the sake of others, who had many highs and lows, as he sacrifice his own reputation and comforts to teach others much that was good and true wrote, “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. I have learned the
secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” When he wrote that he was writing contentedly from a prison cell where he was unjustly confined.
He recommended this frame of mind to another young man he mentored, Timothy. “Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment…But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” That’s not very American of him. But then, he wasn’t an American. But I am, and this is the same attitude I try to practice. And it serves me will. But it makes it hard for my wife to buy me Christmas presents. This year she surprised me with four new shirts. She knew, though, that it came with a chore. She had to help me choose for other shirts to dispose of because I have decided to be content with the number of shirts I have.
So, I commend to you this coming year, godliness with contentment. When you review each day, and each season of your life in the nights to come, may you discover peace, joy, love and patience as you enjoy and endure with contentment as the days allow.