Last month, I wrote a recap of what I learned about my 2019 Word of the Year—“Forgiveness.” And to sum it up—I still have a lot to learn. But, I’m ready to take on a new word that will undoubtedly give me a whole new set of challenges, and while it’s doubtful I’ll master it in a year, my 2020 Word of the Year is “Contentment.” My signature verse this year will be 1 Timothy 6:6-8. It says, But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. (ESV).
And it comes down to this: I have enough. I don’t need anything. I stare at my closet and think, “I have nothing to wear,” but the truth is—I have several racks that are bursting with clothes, not to mention drawers that are crammed full. I open the refrigerator doors and step into the pantry and think, “I have nothing to eat,” but the truth is—I have plenty to choose from. I have a car in my driveway, a roof over my head, and I have what I need, as well as plenty of wants.
And the question is—what is going to happen with all this stuff?
It’s a question we addressed after my grandmother died in 2018, and we decided it was time (and way overdue) to put together our wills. And in the process, I started to take a long hard look at what I have. Interestingly, it was the few pieces of jewelry I inherited from my grandmother that helped me put a lot of things in perspective.
And what I figured out—it’s just stuff.
Don’t misunderstand. These pieces are priceless to me (though I don’t know and don’t care about the monetary value). But I had to do a reality check with them. My grandmother had left these to me as an act of love, but she is not in heaven pining away for her jewelry. It is “stuff,” and while they may mean a lot to me from a sentimental perspective, I have to understand that these pieces are not critical to my existence.
Her jewelry and all the other wants that make up my life –are not necessary. I need to learn to be content with what I have. It’s a lesson most of us need to learn, then re-learn, and then—learn again.
I recently read Dave Ramsey’s book, The Legacy Journey, which addresses the Biblical view of money, wealth, and generosity. He discussed the topic of contentment, and the challenge is this—when we look at what we have, do we have enough? Most of us would say, “Yes, we do have enough.” But when we look at what we don’t have, is what we have still enough? It’s a hard question, and I think if most of us are honest with ourselves, we’d agree that the “stuff” we don’t have can be an obstacle to our contentment.
When it comes to a Biblical perspective on contentment, most of us think of Paul’s words from Philippians—Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13 ESV). And this verse speaks volumes of the power of godly contentment—the contentment we find when we lean on Jesus as the source of all we need.
So as I study contentment this year—the goal is to be focused on having enough, instead of focusing on what I don’t have. And beyond the material comforts, I intend to study contentment from an emotional and spiritual standpoint, too. To be content with the assignment God gives me. Content with my relationships. Content with who God made me to be. Content with the talents and skills He’s entrusted to me. Content with the fact that I don’t have all the answers. Content to let God be God and content with the fact that I am not in control of what happens next.
Contentment may seem to be a boring word to some, but I feel like I’m going to learn a lot this year. As I did in 2019, I will flag my editorial list to give you an update in December! Until then—Happy New Year!