I give away my approximate age when I say that one of the songs I grew up hoppin and boppin to was Madonna’s Material Girl. I used to watch the music video and sing along with gusto. I remember the silky clothes, the fancy 80s hair, the message:
cause the boy with the cold hard cash
Is always mister right, cause we are
Living in a material world
And I am a material girl
You know that we are living in a material world
And I am a material girl
A recent conversation with my mom — and a large dose of the Holy Spirit, I’m sure — is beginning to really open my eyes in the area of contentment. We talked about the new Wal-Mart Christmas wish book which now has stickers that kids can use to mark which toys they want to get for Christmas. I would have milked that for all it was worth when I was a child! I used to scour the Sears catalog in much the same way. Now that I’m a mom myself, I give my daughter catalogs and have her mark the items she’d like to have.
Of course we don’t buy her everything, but when I take a close look at the overcrowded game room, I see that we’ve come pretty close. What am I teaching her about contentment when I shell out the cash (or the credit card!) for the next big thing that catches her eye? What am I teaching myself?
Parents have a natural inclination to want to provide good things for their children. This is a truth that Jesus used as an illustration in Luke 11:
11“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
So what is the balance, then? How do we provide for our families in such a way that we all learn to be content — so that we don’t raise our kids into Material Girls and Boys?
I turn to the scriptures to see what God has to say about riches, finances, and contentment. There are over 2000 verses dealing with these issues. I can’t tackle them all at one time…but I have to start somewhere. So…here goes!
1Timothy 6 has much to say about guarding yourself from the love of money:
6But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.
Content in verse 8 is arkeo in the original Greek. This word means to be content or satisfied, but it also has other meanings that add a richness to the picture of being content. It means having unfailing strength; being strong; and to defend or ward off. The word is derived from a word that refers to building a wall. So, Paul says that if we have food and clothing, we will WARD OFF any thoughts of incompleteness. I like this idea because I have a lot of thoughts of incompleteness that need to be warded off!
Tomorrow I’ll delve deeper into 1Timothy 6 to see what other treasures are waiting to be discovered.