I had the opportunity recently to purchase two cars. One was more than twice the price of the other. My intention was to use the more sophisticated one for business and personally use the lesser one. But before putting one out for business, I drove the two for up to one month. Just less than a week of driving them, I was no longer contented with my lesser car. I suddenly realised I preferred taking the bigger one everywhere. It was far more prestigious. It was quite big too. With my tiny frame, I used to look like butterfly inside it. My mind began to immediately plot how to sell off the smaller one within a short time, find more money and buy the bigger type for my personal use.
Two weeks before this time, I didn’t even have a bicycle and I was fine. I didn’t die. At that time, anytime I saw someone drive pass me the type of that smaller one, I said to myself, “If God can just provide me this car, I may not ask Him for another one in ten years. The car is neat and strong, still very much in vogue, full AC etc – what else am I looking for?” But can you imagine that after just one week of buying it, I was no longer satisfied with it. My eyes was already on another one. That’s the human nature. It is never satisfied!
I’m just trying to show you that the reason you’re not contented is not because you don’t have much. Even when you have much, there’ll always be a higher & newer version of what you have. If you don’t discipline yourself to be contented, you will never be happy no matter how much more money comes to you. We’ve shared in the past weeks about making more money but this here is the balance: contentment.
The world system itself is a trap. It will deliberately not produce the best of anything at once. Every year, it releases an upgraded version that will be more beautiful and sophisticated than last year’s version. While you’re still celebrating the fact you used your savings of five years to purchase Camry 2020, Camry 2021 has been released. The trap is for you to never be contented and continue to pursue without never being able to overtake.
Contentment is a discipline. It is something to be learnt. You have to teach yourself this thing friend. Paul said I have LEARNT in whatever situation I am to be content. “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me.” Philippians 4:10-13.
When God has provided bountifully, Paul knew how to go to the market and buy chicken and expensive fish and enjoy life. But when the money has come down and almost finished, he knows how to go to the same market to purchase “panla” (a lesser) fish. The day he can’t afford fish at all, he has learnt how to eat his food without fish or meat with joy. Are we going to learn the same?
I know that some of you in the past have been abased. Even though not willingly, your purse forced you to be abased when you didn’t have a choice. But the mark of your lack of contentment is that you were sad all through. That day you had to eat your food without meat, you were so sad. You were busy saying, “God, remember me o. This is not the kind of life I prayed for when I chose to follow you.”
This is partly also because some preachers have told you to eat without meat is a mark that you’re a sinner or under the curse of poverty. But this was Paul who gave us all those prosperity verses in the new testament proving to us by his own personal life that there will always be time of so much supply and those times when you have lesser supply. It’s a reality of life friends no matter what motivational speakers tell you.
Abasing for you may not be eating without meat. You may have totally grown passed that. Abasing may mean traveling by road to a place when you’ve been used to going by air. Whatever abounding and abasing means for you, the summary is we must learn like Paul how to get along happily whether we have much or little. Your joy and delight in the Lord must remain constant whether you are fully supplied or partly supplied. That’s the proof of contentment.
I hear some of you say, “I can’t eat without meat.” “I can’t use a wedding gown that is less than fifty thousand naira.” “I can’t use a phone that is less than 3G internal memory.” All of these are lies. The truth is that you can do all things through Christ that strengthens you. If what is available in the house is just yam and palm oil, I can assure you that if you put it in your mouth, it will enter your stomach and you’ll be fine. Do you realise that the popular scripture, “I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me is within this context of supply and want? I can abound when there is abundance, I can abase when there is want, I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me.
Contentment does not mean you should not make efforts to have a better life and growth in all you do. What contentment means is that while you wait to attain the next level, you’re fully happy and satisfied with your current state. When your mind races to provoke you with those who are ahead of you, you remind yourself that there are also several of your age who have not even gone as far as you’ve gone. In those days of not having a car, in order to silence my discontented mind, I told it, “if there is at least one person in my graduating set (or age bracket) who hasn’t bought a car, there is nothing to be sad about because I’m not better than that person no matter who s/he is.”
A contented man does not even compare himself with anyone. He doesn’t seek advancement by struggling with others. He is willing to grow at his own pace in life. He doesn’t strive for the higher level or new degree or that new fashion or furniture out of strife and a competitive spirit because he saw someone else who just got them. A contented man is happy to be himself and run his own race.
Think about this: are you really content in whatsoever state you are? Are you internally satisfied? Are you internally happy, such that the presence of someone who seems to have something better than you, does not cause you to raise an eyebrow? Could you come to a position in which whatever another person has, does not affect or make you feel inferior?
Why are you so bent on spending that much on that wedding – an amount clearly beyond your capacity considering your level of income- is it not out of competition with your friend whose wedding you attended recently or just to follow what you always see on Instagram? You’ll say you’re trying to be excellent but that’s an excellence you can’t afford. Can’t you settle for an excellence within your income?
If we learn contentment, we will have more happy marriages. If we have contentment, we will be able to live happily below our means so we can be able to save for investment into our future. Lack of contentment is why several people will never be able to save for investment and so they’ll never be financially free. There are so many, “I can’ts” in their life.
Couple A can have so much and live a quarrelsome, frustrated life without joy because they don’t have contentment. They are always living above their means and always in debt and financial pressure. With contentment, Couple B that has just one quarter of what Couple A has can live a very cordial, happy and fulfilling marriage. More money is really not the first solution but contentment!
My own heart cries to the Lord to give myself and Iyebiye contentment. To help us by His mighty power to learn how to abound and abase without losing our joy. We of course will trust Him to take us higher and higher and we will work at it. But no matter how high we go, there will still be “abounding” and “abasing” whatever that will mean at different levels. That the Lord will make it possible for our love, excitement, delight in Him, commitment to each other, the joy in our home to remain constant no matter the vagaries of supply.
For our joy must never be tied to the vagaries of material things or our account balance. That will be an erratic joy because material things and supply of money are always erratic. Your word says we should rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS. God is constant and so that way, our joy will be constant. So shall it be. Amen!
The series on financial agreement continues next week.
Peniela Eniayo, Akintujoye.
©Peniela Eniayo, Akintujoye| email@example.com