• Jonathan Deatherage

Contentment Series: Greatest Good (Part 4)

Ever feel like there isn't enough money to keep up with everything that's breaking? I've been living in that space for a while now, and if you've been there, you know it quickly begins to feel like you just can't win.

Sifting through the disappointment and feelings of defeat, the undercurrent of disbelief can quietly creep in — the idea that God’s love and favor is connected to the status of my material possessions. If things are going well, God's favor is the sun on my face; if things keep breaking, if the money doesn't come, the clouds must have covered his radiance from my life.

I know this is not true — at least, in my mental theological grid. But at some affective level, my heart tends to wander to a place where I feel like God has turned a blind eye or pulled back somehow, at least in this part of my life.

“But you, O Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.” (Psalm 3:3)

But the truth of the matter is that I am seeking for something other than the Lord to be “my glory."

I’d be lying to say that some form of financial asset doesn't tend to be my “good” or my “glory.” My paycheck, or the dream of a better paycheck. My transferrable skills. My retirement fund. My savings account.

What are those financial assets that your heart and mind run to when you get nervous about how you’ll make it in the future?

Of course, we could now walk right into the conversation about “give us this day our daily bread” and Jesus’ teaching on daily dependence. But I want to go deeper than that. I think that even before we come to the issue of daily bread, we have to start with the issue of “what is my good?” or, more accurately, “who is my good?”

In order for us to be able to trust in God for our daily bread, we must first be convinced that he is, in his very character, a good, loving God.

But, in order for us to trust him when the daily bread doesn’t come — insert whatever financial disaster haunts you — that financial security is not our ultimate good. Having God is our ultimate good.

I know, it sounds like so much church-fluff. You think I just gave you the Sunday School answer, and we're all about to skip off into the sunset singing happy church music. But stay with me — there is grit yet to be had in this.

In my concern for my own personal financial portfolio, the Holy Spirit brought to my mind the first lines of Hebrews 13:5, “Let your lives be free from the love of money…” Ok, God, fair enough. But I remembered there was more to that verse, so I looked it up. It came with an odd promise.

I expected the reasoning behind why I should live my life free from the love of money might be something like, “for God has promised he will always give you your daily bread,” or, “for God has promised to always look after you,” or, “for God has promised he’ll give you everything you need.” Nope, not here. Here’s the entire verse:

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5, NIV)

Contentment comes from trusting in God’s perpetual presence in our lives. It has literally nothing to do with your financial portfolio. You could have money coming out of your ears or you could have trouble rubbing two pennies together, and the reason for contentment is the same: God is always with you.

If you have received the sin-payment that Jesus fully accomplish on the cross, the New Testament clearly states that the Spirit of God lives inside you (Ephesians 1:13-14; 1 Corinthians 6:19, John 14:19).

Because of Jesus, every believer has the continual presence of God residing in them. In some significant way, the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews believes that this should be the antidote for our discontentment when it comes to money.

Somehow the One who is our greatest good has a relational answer to our problem with material possessions. And somewhere in that truth we find for ourselves a simpler, more freeing self-perception as humans in the care of the Eternal Love.

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