But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. (I Timothy 6:6-8)
I have come to understand that contentment is the thing that causes me to slow down and be thankful for what I already have. I can see it when I am at the THANKSGIVING DINNER. When can I just put down my fork, push back from the table, grab for a toothpick, and express my thanks to the cook? It’s when I’m content. I’ve had enough. I’m satisfied. And it makes no difference if there is still more turkey in the kitchen or pumpkin pie on the stove – I’ve had all I need and that enables me to stop grabbing for more.
Discontentment, on the other hand, is what keeps me going – reaching for a little more stuffing or hoping for a couple more of those little crab cakes. It keeps me circling through the kitchen, pulling one more scrap of turkey off the bird. I keep grabbing and stuffing because, somehow, I feel like I still need it. It is only later when the full gravity of what I have consumed hits me, that I wonder to myself: “Why was I still reaching for more when I had eaten too much already? Why couldn’t I just stop and enjoy the contentment of what I had already eaten?”
But it’s not just on my holiday dinner table that I see the struggle – I see the struggle of the CALENDAR of this week.
Contentment is the Holiday that we mark on Thursday. It is called Thanksgiving, a day set apart to slow down and express gratitude. On this day we remember the things that matter most with the people who matter most. We eat good food that God has given and return thanks back for all His blessings. Discontentment is the Holiday that we mark this Friday. It is called Black Friday; a day to rise early, to run fast, shop until you drop, and engage in hand-to-hand combat to grab ahold of door-buster discounts.
Contentment and discontentment are at war in this week of celebration – and I am sorry to report that discontentment is winning!
It used to be that on Friday morning at 5:00am the doors would open and the insanity would start. But somehow that didn’t seem early enough for some, and so they ratcheted it back to 4:00am. Then it was Midnight: “The very second that Thanksgiving is over, let the pursuit of the best deals begin.” Then it was Thursday evening, and then it was all day. Apparently we could not stop ourselves, not even for a single day, to just feast, rest, and give thanks.
Could you imagine if Thursday was winning?
Could you imagine if the people rose up and said: “One day simply is not enough to slow down, gather, and rehearse all the blessings in our lives? We simply need more time! Keep everything closed at least until noon on Friday, so that we can have one morning more to restfully give thanks.”
Seems almost unimaginable, doesn’t it? Though we are better fed, clothed, and housed than almost any other people in the history of the world, it is nearly unthinkable that we would ever need more time on the calendar to return thanks to God.
So how’s the battle going in your life this holiday week?
I may not know what you’re having for dinner on Thursday, nor what you’ll be shopping for on Friday – but I do know what you’ll feel like when you are content. You’ll be able to slow down. It won’t seem like a bother to pause and look back on all you’ve received. Giving thanks will seem natural to your heart.