A little with the Lord

Better is a little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble with it (Proverbs 15:16 ESV).

One of the recurring themes throughout the Proverbs is that peace, righteousness, and the fear of the Jehovah are far superior to wealth. With so much glorification of gain, this is definitely a counter-culture mindset.

It is implicit in almost every culture that those who have are more important than those who do not. Those who have fame are better than those who are unknown. Those who are rich are better than those who are poor. Those who are talented in a visible way are better than those whose talents exhibit themselves in more modest ways. Privation is seen as a character flaw and possession is seen as proof of a superior person. Continue reading “A little with the Lord”

The battle for contentment

One of the great battles in the human heart is for contentment. The desire for more or for something different never lurks far away. Satan wants us to feel that what we have now, where we are at present, who we’re with today, is not enough. There are things we ought to possess, experiences we should surely enjoy, knowledge we must have.

The desire for more or for something different is not wrong. It has its proper goal. God himself provides its satisfaction. Heaven fills the heart with truest longing.

But such a desire must be accompanied by patience. The requirement to have it, know it, change it up now, forces the desire into wrong channels. Like Israel that cannot wait for the promised land, it looks back to Egypt, to what was lost, or casts about for that Something that is missing and immediately required. Continue reading “The battle for contentment”

A life of joy

One of the words we often hear as Christmas approaches is “joy.” We sing “Joy to the world, the Lord has come!” We wish each other “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” when we greet them – even people we don’t know. Yet many people aren’t living lives of merriment, happiness, and joy.

What exactly is “joy”? The dictionary defines it as: “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness” (Oxford Dictionary of English). The Greek word we find used in the writings of the apostles is “charas” and refers to gladness and often the people that are the cause of one being glad. Continue reading “A life of joy”

It will be alright

Have you ever known anyone who became so anxious with reading a story that he or she would skip to the last chapter to see how it ended? Years ago I remember someone telling me this was her strategy for reading books. For many of us this would ruin the story. However for her, knowing how the narrative tensions would be resolved enabled her to relax enough to read through the story.

I’m not convinced this is a great strategy for reading books. Nevertheless, it is a helpful way to live life. Continue reading “It will be alright”

Contentment is never found in things

The Holman Bible Dictionary defines contentment as “An internal satisfaction which does not demand changes in external circumstances.”

Although it’s one of the most valuable things on earth, how to attain it is highly controversial.

Humanity gropes for solutions but wealth, prestige, glamour, sexuality, substance abuse and rebellion have all failed spectacularly. Continue reading “Contentment is never found in things”

Whether through difficulty or ease

Some scriptures tend to be more popular than others. Often these verses are memorized and are characterized by offering us hope and relief. Among these popular texts, Paul’s letter from prison to the Philippians contains a number of texts that stand tall offering comfort and inspiration.

In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing. I am able to do all things through the one who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:12,13).

Paul’s secret can be ours. A deep satisfying contentment can be ours. Real freedom from crushing situational distress exists. They need not rule our lives nor how we evaluate our lives. However, all of this comes at a price.  Continue reading “Whether through difficulty or ease”

A great soul in a small house

A great soul in a small house is the idea which has touched me more than any other. —Lacordaire, quoted in Wm. Barclay./1

The modern small-house movement is attractive. It appeals to the need for simplicity in man. It allows people to escape great expenses, the oppressive burden of mortgage payments. It forces one, in a way, to fit into small living quarters what is most important.

Living in a small house, however, is no guarantee of a happy heart. On the contrary, if the heart has not been previously conditioned, cramped quarters can be a cause of discontent and discord.

How can one be that “great soul” which Lacordaire praises above? Continue reading “A great soul in a small house”

Are you content?

“Now godliness combined with contentment brings great profit. For we have brought nothing into this world and so we cannot take a single thing out either. But if we have food and shelter, we will be satisfied with that” (1 Timothy 6:6-8 NET).

Contentment. What most people want and so few actually have. Why aren’t we satisfied with what we have? If we have food and shelter, surely we should be satisfied! We might want to add in loved ones, as well. But do we really need anything beyond these necessities? – after all, we can’t take it with us when we die! Continue reading “Are you content?”