Day 18: Discontentment
Whoever trusts in his riches will fall,
but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf.
My wife once traveled to Arizona and asked my son what he wanted for a gift.
He replied, “I’d like a snake.” (We were reading Genesis and his favorite Bible character was the serpent.)
So I asked him, “You mean like a pretend snake.”
“No,” he insisted, “A real snake.”
Needless to say he was disappointed (for about three seconds).
We all experience disappointment in life, so Paul explains the key of contentment . . .
“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” (Phil. 4:11-13). Contentment requires trusting the sovereign God to set our expectations rightly.
My wife and I often talk with our children about making wise financial decisions. We have prayed together as a family over major sacrifices like downsizing our home, helping others in need, or supporting missionaries. We often encourage one another: “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it” (Prov. 15:17; see 17:1). We prioritize cherishing our family before storing away wealth. Money is not wrong to have, but as J. C. Ryle wrote in Riches and Poverty:
“Money is one of the most unsatisfying of possessions. It takes away some cares, no doubt; but brings with it quite as many cares. There is trouble in getting it, anxiety in keeping it, temptations in using it, guilt in abusing it, sorrow in losing it, and perplexity in disposing of it.”
In Proverbs 30, King Agur makes a humble request of the Lord: “Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches” (vv. 7-8a). Do not make me either too rich or too poor, but “feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God” (vv. 8b-9). Agur wisely centers his heart upon the Lord: “O Lord, do not make me overly rich. Provide only the food I need each day or I will grow proud in my prosperity. I might believe the lie that I don’t need you—that I can make it on my own (see 11:28). I might turn my wealth into an idol. But also, Lord, don’t make me overly poor. Provide my daily bread or I might grow desperate in my poverty (see 6:30). I might believe the lie that you don’t care—that I’ve got to make it on my own. I might turn my fear into an idol. O Lord, give me neither poverty nor riches. Let me not be the fool who claims there is no God (Ps. 14:1) and profanes the name of God: ‘Who is the Lord?’ Instead, turn my heart to yours and prove true your every word. ‘For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God’” (18:31)?
Dads, you might rephrase Agur’s prayer to be your own: “O Lord, grant me only what is needful to make me more like Jesus.”
Give me trials or give me rest;
Give me only what is best.
Make me rich or make me poor;
Whichever way just make me more like Jesus.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, Teach me to be content when my wandering heart keeps looking for more. Help me to rest in your all-sufficient arms and trust that you will provide whatever we need. Then show me how to pass on this legacy of contentment, so that my children will cling to you in every circumstance. In your Son’s name, Amen.
LifeWork: Write down one way you will apply today’s Proverb.
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