By James Pence
Once a church elder told me it was easier for a poor man to die than for a rich man to die, because the poor man knows he is leaving everything behind to gain something he cannot lose, and the rich man is losing everything he holds dear in order to gain nothing.
Prosperity can go to our heads and lead to one’s downfall.
Andrew Carnegie said, “Millionaires seldom smile.”
Henry Ford said, “I was happier when I was doing a mechanics job.”
And W.H. Vanderbilt said, “The care of $200 million is enough to kill anyone. There is no pleasure in it.”
But to learn how to be content has treasure and blessing in it.
The late Erma Bombeck once wrote of a girl named Christina who was 8 years old and had cancer of the nervous system. When she was asked what she might like for her birthday, she thought for a minute and said, “I don’t know. I have two sticker books and a Cabbage Patch doll. I have everything.”
To which Bombeck responded, “The kid is right.”
Contentment. You can be miserable with a lot and satisfied with a little, but God wants us to learn to be content in each and every situation of life, whether it is a little or a lot.
And especially as we approach a season of Thanksgiving, God would have us to be people who are very content and not complainers. And yet ours is an age of complaining.
We complain about the weather, about food service, about bills, about high insurance costs, high medical bills, our own economy, and we complain vehemently about politics.
If Satan’s aim is to divide us completely, he is doing very well with Red States and Blue States, “Trumpers” and “Never Trumpers.”
We are no longer even people who favor one party or another so much as we are tribes of people who insist that if you don’t agree with me, I will have nothing to do with you.
We follow a party, a man, a woman or an ideology, but the Elephant or the Donkey will never save us.
Only the Lamb of God can do that!
Paul could say in Philippians 4:4-13 he had learned to be “content” in each and every situation in life, whether he had a lot or a little, and then he concluded in verse 13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
People misinterpret this verse to mean no matter what they are facing, if they just have faith enough, they can handle anything through Jesus.
John 15:5 helps us to understand it better. John says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”
So the idea is more one of humility than a boast. It’s not, “look what I can do through Jesus,” but “because of Jesus I can do what I do and if I didn’t know Him I could do nothing!”
Perhaps if we are prone to complain, we may need to switch our residence. Someone wrote the “ABC’S of Trials.”
In part, it says, “Move out of Camp Complaining — no weapon that is known on earth can yield the power Praise can do alone. Quit looking to the future, redeem the time at hand. Start every day with worship; to “thank” is a command. Until we see Him coming, victorious in the sky, we’ll run the race with gratitude, exalting God most high. Yes, there’ll be good times; and yes, some will be bad, but Zion waits in glory — where none are ever sad!”
James Pence is minister of Pleasant Grove Christian Church of Martinsville.