I almost got into a fight today. It was at the Pilot gas station on Halfway BLVD.
A man was filling his very nice vehicle a couple of pumps away, as his noticeably pretty wife (or whatever) was returning to the car from having been inside the building. He began yelling in an arguing sort of tone with extreme anger. It seemed to have something to do with spending money. His foul language increased more and more as his finished gassing the vehicle and drove away … past me with his window open and the ranting continuing.
I just impulsively said, “Yo dude, calm it down … it’s going to be alright … nothing can be this bad.” He made a particular gesture toward me I can’t really describe in this setting, slowed down and addressed me with some words I cannot report as well. For a moment, I thought it might be “game on.” But he drove away … yelling.
Here was a guy with some nice things in life. His car was certainly better than my 2001 minivan. But he was not enjoying his blessings.
We often see people in life who have a lot of blessings, but who also don’t seem to be able to enjoy them. Perhaps they feel their blessings are really not as significant as they actually are, aspiring to greater gains like they observe in the lives of certain others. We know also of people who do well, but all they do is work and strive for even more, as their job owns them.
If you think about it, happiness in life and work is not directly proportionate to the amount of gain that comes from it. Rather, the happiest people are those who find contentment in the use of the abilities that they have, being content also with the adequate life that God enables them to enjoy as a result – be it in abundance, sufficiency, or in meager circumstances. They accept their work and life as from God, believing also that He will supply their needs.
Solomon calls this the gift of God …
Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 – This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. 19 Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. 20 They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.
People like this do not regret and grieve the past, nor do they worry about the future. They live in thankfulness that God has been good to meet their daily needs at whatever social strata he had given them.
The New Testament passage of relative equivalence would be in Philippians 4:4-7 … Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
When we rest in God and in His gifts, we get also the gift of rest from Him.
Another New Testament writer says (Hebrews 13:5) … Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Some talk show host on the radio was talking about something recently. (Wow, news flash…. )
I don’t remember the total context but a study was referred to that found that once people make $75,000 a year any additional income doesn’t statistically make people happier. The two people discussing this decided that this amount of wealth for contentment may vary depending upon the cost of living in any particular area.
Another time I learned that sometimes how we do compared to other people is a better personal situation to be in. For example lets say a student with good grades graduates from High School and chooses a college to go to. The student might be able to go to one school where he or she will be at the top of the class or another more competitive college where he or she won’t be at the top … but possibly at the bottom. It can be stressful to go from being the top student at a rural high school to being near the bottom of the class at a competitive place like MIT. Now perhaps people don’t always look solely at grades but at how much they can learn and some such student may just be delighted with how much they can learn at MIT. However for people that measure themselves by other people … this can feel like a personal catastrophe.
Similarly happiness has been measured in certain countries. In a very poor country someone with a low meager income, but higher than his or her neighbors, will tend to be happier than someone with a higher income in a nation or country where he or she doesn’t make as much as the next person.
Somewhere scripture (perhaps in the book of James) urges the poor Christian to have pride in his exalted position in Christ, and urges the rich person to take pride in his low position … or something like that.
In any case, in Christ things can get turned around. God’s perspective on many things, like “love of money” is often very different from the perspective of mankind in general.
However, I ought to point out there isn’t necessarily any correlation with how much money people make with things like greed … though sometimes there is. … This comment could get very long if I start venturing into that topic.
I for one though, quite poor (only by upper-middle class or middle-class US standards … mind you!!) still find myself greatly challenged about where God is in my life. According to someone writing in chapter 29 or 30 of Proverbs, riches might cause people to feel self-sufficient and therefore free from the “need” or “crutch” of God. On the other hand poverty might cause people to be a bit too greedy and in an extreme example “steal” to get what they need … to perhaps fill their hunger. I’m neither hungry for food nor lacking clothes and am OK with bills. However knowing when and how to give in what situations, when to spend extra and for what … I’m erring I suppose on the side of caution. Paul mentioned that one church gave even beyond their ability. … Giving could be a huge topic. Paul did urge a certain balance … the exact phrase of the scripture escapes me. He didn’t want some to be hard-pressed while giving to others who, if I remember right, were better off. Again I can’t remember that exact scripture.
Paul remarked that he had both encountered and experienced great abundance as well as great need … and that God’s grace enabled him to handle both these situations in the way that God wants.
So, I’ll conclude that we need to look to God for guidance no matter what situation we are in … his perspective is so much greater than ours … his love is so much greater than ours and we need to see things from his perspective. Near the end of the Book of Ecclesiastes there is a thought or more shared about too much writing … and so I’ll just express my gratitude to God that you are in one piece physically and are serving Him spiritually.