Contentment10/24/2017 | 5 Minute Read | Author: Nate Carden
You might be wondering to yourself why anyone would ever want to be content. Anyone with an elementary understanding of economics has heard that “greed is good.” It is the invisible hand that creates jobs and increases our standard of living. Our culture and education has instructed us to group contentment together with apathy. With our background it is logical to think that someone who is satisfied with what he has is someone who is lazy. I too have thought, “I don’t want to be content. It just seems like an excuse to do nothing with your life. Why set goals? Why dream, if I am supposed to just be content?” I have since come to find out that contentment is all together different from what I thought. Contentment just needs a better definition.
We have been taught that without greed people will not work hard, but nothing could be further from the truth. Who wrote about contentment? The apostle Paul did; a man who has done more than anyone else in the history of Christianity to spread the name of Jesus Christ; a man who wrote most of the New Testament; a man who ran the race as to win the prize; a man who was martyred for his faith!
A dictionary will give you this definition of contentment: “satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else.” I disagree. We humans are greedy by our very nature! Therefore it is impossible to be satisfied with anything that you have made the object of your pursuit! I would say therefore that contentment is more of a detachment from your material possessions and a greedy pursuit of Heaven.
There are many things that we pursue in life: money, beauty, fame, fun, happiness, significance, records, titles…etc, and we skip from one to the other, never finding satisfaction. We can see ourselves in the video below.
If we choose to pursue anything but God in this life, we will be like this dog chasing the car and as you can see, there are only two results of chasing the car: 1) he doesn’t catch the car and is frustrated 2) he catches the car is seriously hurt.. So it is with us. Nowhere is this principle more evident than in Hollywood. In this elite social circle, you can find some of the most beautiful, wealthy, and famous people in the world. Yet few of them are happy. Most of them are divorced and depressed and the rest of us are jealous onlookers who are frustrated because we can’t get what they have! I don’t get it..
Howard Hughes is a perfect case study. Talk about a man who had everything this world has to offer. In his early twenties he stated “I intend to be the greatest golfer in the world, the finest film producer in the world, the greatest pilot in the world, and the richest man in the world.” He went on to achieve almost everything he set out to do and more. He produced and directed some of the biggest hits ever to come out of Hollywood (i.e. Hell’s Angels, Scarface, The Outlaws). He literally dated almost all of the world’s most beautiful women of his time (Billie Dove, Katherine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Ava Gardner, Olivia de Havilland, Gene Tierney, Rita Hayworth...etc). As a pilot, he set several world records (for endurance by flying around the world and for speed by cutting Lindberg’s time across the Atlantic in half). As an engineer/innovator he helped develop the world’s fastest plane at the time (the H-1 Racer) and the world’s biggest plane in history (H-4 Hercules). As a businessman, he achieved his dream of becoming the richest man in the world... What more could a man want or achieve?
Howard Hughes’ story is fascinating to read about, but to tell the truth, I would not choose his life. What was the result of all of his success? He went insane and died as a recluse. He could never fully wrap his hands around the object of his desire (whatever it happened to be at the time) and the pursuit destroyed him. When asked how much money would make him happy, he replied, “just one more dollar.” More money did not however quench his thirst for MORE.
Enough is never enough. Why couldn’t Brett Favre just be happy with 19 seasons in the NFL? Yes, he made it to 20, but it cost him dearly. His reputation is marred and his marriage took a blow. The object of his pursuit did not taste as good as he imagined. It never does (think of a dog who finally succeeds in biting the car tire).
There is only one thing can satisfy our deepest longings and our heart’s desire: a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. You might have heard that we were born with a God shaped hole in our hearts. It is true, nothing else will do. In John 4:10-13, Jesus runs into a Samaritan woman who is drawing water from a well and he says to her, “‘if you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me and I would give you living water...anyone who drinks this water [the things of this world] will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
WHAT we choose to pursue and WHERE we look to find satisfaction in this life determines whether we will find joy, both in this life and the next! I’ll leave you with this story. Gary Smith, a great sportswriter, did a story on Mohammed Ali for the April 1988 issue of Sports Illustrated. The interview was held at the great boxing champion’s estate. When Gary arrived, Ali gave him a tour which included the farmhouse where he used to train and where he collected all of his trophy’s, awards and other memorabilia. Now, I’ll let Gary tell the rest..
He led me into a barn. On the floor, leaning against the walls, were paintings and photographs of him in his prime, eyes keen, arms thrust up in triumph, surrounded by the cluster of people he took around the world with him. He looked closer and noticed it. Across his face in every picture, streaks of bird dung. He glanced up toward the pigeons in the rafters. No malice, no emotion at all flickered in his eyes. Silently, one by one, he turned the pictures to the wall.
Outside, he stood motionless and moved his eyes across his farm. He spoke from his throat, without moving his lips. I had to ask him to repeat it. "I had the world," he said, "and it wasn't nothin'." He paused and pointed. "Look now...."