I am sure many of you have looked out at your neighbor’s house in envy. There may even have been times when you have gotten jealous at the luxury car that your friend or co-worker drives. When you see these nice possessions of others, many times you begin to imagine the pleasure and satisfaction that must come from owning these luxury items. When this happens, you must remember, as hard as it is in the moment that, “contentment makes poor men rich. Discontent makes rich men poor.”clii So how do you maintain contentment in a world that is so focused on material possessions? I have found several things that help.
The first thing to realize is that you are a spiritual being. Yes, you exist in a physical world, but you will never be able to fix a spiritual deficiency with material objects. You have much deeper needs such as love and an inner desire to grow spiritually. These needs will never be filled by buying “stuff.” I know many people who do this, and they may even feel satisfied by it for a short time, but eventually they will need to buy more things. It leads to a state of mental, physical, spiritual and financial poverty.
Instead, keep yourself focused on what is truly important and you will have abundance in your life. Remember, “the richest person is the one who is content with what he has.”cliii
The next suggestion is to make sure we are putting money in its proper place. Money is only a tool to measure the exchange of goods and services between people. We all need food, clothing and shelter; that’s it! Anything beyond that is for our physical comfort and is not necessary for contentment. I’m not saying that it isn’t nice to have, but it’s not needed. Focus on your spiritual needs, instead of material wants. When you start to meet these needs your focus will change. As scripture says, “… Man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”cliv If you are not happy and content more money is not the answer. “Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of filling a vacuum, it makes one.”clv
Don’t compare yourself with other people. You shouldn’t do this in any area of your life. Your money and finances are no different. When you do this, you begin to feel superior to those you have more than and inferior to those you have less than. It’s important to remember that everyone is on their own journey. Some people are further along in their journey than others and when you begin to compare, you cause harm to yourself. We all can take a lesson from the parable about the landowner who hired laborers to work in his vineyard.clvi In this story the landowner hires workers for his vineyard, and he continues to hire more workers throughout the day. When the day ends and the workers come from the vineyard to be paid, the landowner decides to give each worker the same amount of money, regardless of when they started. Those who worked the longest became mad and asked the landowner about it. He replied, “…Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius?”clvii The same should be true with you. Don’t compare yourself; just keep moving forward.
Make sure you are grateful for what you do have. You don’t need to be satisfied, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t show gratitude. I meet so many people who many would say have “made it” financially, but they lack the simple gratitude that makes it all worthwhile. Therefore, they are usually miserable, unhappy and unfulfilled.
“If you want to feel rich, just count the things you have that money can’t buy.”clviii Always remember, as bad as you think your money situation may be right now, you are better off than the 95% of the world who don’t even know where their next meal may be coming from. Your worst financial nightmare may be someone else’s dream come true. “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have.”clix
Michael at R2W
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