11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:11-13 (NKJV)
Learning to become content is not easy.
Christians have a real hard time with it because they have to somehow find a balance between this world system and the Word of the Lord. Many Christians have accepted Christ as Lord and Savior, yet they find themselves at the mercy of the world’s temptations and enticements. The desirable things of the world some to lure Christians down a dark pathway of rampant consumerism and debt that comes at the high cost for keeping up with the Joneses.
Consumer economics says that America has it backwards. Our savings rate is almost nonexistent, but we are constantly measuring consumer confidence as an index of American corporate profitability. Our educational system is steadily falling behind the rest of the developed world. However, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and Standard & Poor’s 500 Index continue to serve as the benchmarks by which we measure mutual fund performance and the overall performance of stocks.
I like the way Dave Ramsey poses it to callers to his weekly radio broadcast who have gotten themselves up to their eyeballs in debt and don’t feel that they need to make drastic changes. Like so many of us within American society, they just haven’t started hurting bad enough yet to regulate themselves to PB&J sandwiches and tuna fish with crackers.
We can become content when we learn to live within our means. Live on less than you make and you can save something on a regular basis, not just for emergencies and rainy days.
- Consider how much you need for retirement.
- Identify additional insurance needs like long term disability coverage
- Do you have an estate plan?
- Do you have a will?
- Could you handle a job loss for 3 months? 6 months? How about over a year?
To become content, we have to learn how to live a simple and quiet life. Paul shared such wisdom with the Thessalonians in his first letter to them: “. . . But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more; that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing” (1 Th. 4:10-12)
Becoming content with what you have is enough to get you scrutinized by your neighbors and family as cheap, not just frugal. They will consider you some kind of coupon freak or bargain hunter.
You just keep saving.
People will say that you are ruining your own lives, even the lives of your children. They will say that you will never reach the American dream.
Accept none of their gibberish. Keep on saving.
Keep Benjamin Franklin’s money wisdom in mind: “Content makes poor men rich, discontent makes rich men poor.”