I have received this inviting and annoying “chance to win $5000” several times from PayPal. He (my payPal) really wants me to shop! Paypal isn’t exactly a friend of mine; more like a convenient acquaintance that lets me buy stuff on line from time to time.
What bothers me about my smiley ad-Pal is that this happy fellow looks like he is about to throw money (could it be the $5000) my way – substituting, we guess, a snow ball for a snow ball’s chance in “H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks” to win “a little extra holiday cheer.”
My payPal is a temptation-worm trying to burrow into my mind with the notion that I might possibly be discontent enough to want more. My Pal can hardly imagine that I’ve already won without a single dollar! That’s because another friend of mine gave me some wonderful advice (I Timothy 6:6-10):
Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.
People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
What a funny thing to say – “you have great gain when you are content without great gain.” Surely this is a crazy economic theory (and it flies in the face of the so-called “prosperity gospel”). What ever it is, contentment is probably pretty hard without the “godliness” bit. Or should I say – contentment is difficult to grow outside the godliness ecosystem (economy?).
We can be discontent with injustice; we might be malcontent if we are focussed only on our ends; but wouldn’t you want to be content with where you are, who you are, and what you have? You might say to me, “that’s pretty easy for you to say – you live in Canada, you live in an economic bubble (until the oil prices fell?), you had a good career – what do you know about going without?” (I can point you to my bio in “About” – but what’s the point?).
The problem with the criticism – incomplete though it may be – is that it is not usually levied from the disadvantaged, it is lobbed from the prosperous who simply want to get more prosperous. I am not decrying that; I am talking about an entirely different paradigm of what it means to be content.
Go ahead and, in the words of John Wesley, “gain all you can, save all you can, and give all you can” (Use of Money Sermon). But – and this is a big “but,” are you:
Wise enough to know when you have left your first love for “the love of money becoming a root of all kinds of evil?”
Godly enough to know when you’ve wandered from a satisfying trust to being pierced with grief?
Self disciplined enough to know how to slow down the “gain all you can train?”
Surrounded by good friends who can help relieve you of the burden of money making? (Any fool can relieve any other fool of their money).
My friend Paul says something else equally outlandish (Philippians 4:12, 13):
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it means 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. I can do all things in Christ who gives me strength.
“I have learned the secret of being content!?” There is enigma to this, isn’t there? People can chase after being satisfied, only to find that self satisfaction isn’t very satiating…for long.
Contentment is satisfaction of a different order, and just as Paul proclaims contentment with Godliness is great gain, here we might understand Godliness to mean “doing all things in Christ.”
How about a little extra holiday cheer? Hold it! Can you buy that? “Cheer” – now there’s a word that comes out a Christmas time along with ornaments and decorations.
Paul uses that word too (II Corinthians (9:7):
Each person should give what they’ve decided to give – not reluctantly or under compulsion – for God loves a cheerful giver.
Here the word cheerful comes from the Koine Greek word, “hilaros” – from which we happily derive our word “hilarious.” God loves a hilarious giver? Oh stop, the laughter is too much.
It might be true that it is “more blessed to give than to receive,” but it is absolutely true that it is more blessed if you can give hilariously – without guilt, compulsion, or sad duty. I might over-state it by saying, “give cheerfully, or don’t give at all.” People need your cheer more than your money, but if you can attach some coin to your cheer, well…we’re all going to enjoy the party.
You want a little extra holiday cheer?
Learn the secret of being content. Search the mystery of what it means to be “in Christ.” Explore the enigma of God’s “particular love” for you…and give hilariously – if you can give at all.
I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today…a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord…