Like many things in life, the choices we make in the area of finances are a test. How we handle our money reflects the condition of our hearts. Are we going to choose comfort, self-indulgence, the easy road of carnal pleasure? Or will we bring our money into submission to God along with everything else? If we will, God will give us greater blessings as we show our faithfulness.
If we do not, we are showing that we won’t, or can’t, see that the spiritual realm contains far greater things than the material world. Fallen human nature is fixated upon the tangible. Our default setting as humans is sensualism. To some extent, the condition is an overwhelming force, and we will have to contend with it until the day we die. But we have no obligation to capitulate to such shallowness. We can cultivate the life of the Spirit and deliberately replace our fleshly desires with the spiritual. Nevertheless, although our will is central to the choice, God is central to the application. I can do more to move into the realm of the Spirit with thirty minutes of prayer or a day of fasting than I can in a month of determined human effort.
Contentment is a deliberate act of will by which I reject covetousness and envy. Covetousness is a serious sin not because it is so wrong for glittering things to catch our eye, but because coveting pits us against others and creates in our insides the impression that God has shortchanged us. It is usually fruitless to compare ourselves with others. Faith tells us that the means God has given each of us flows out of His wisdom and love for us. More is not necessarily better. It is God’s mercy that I am not yet (and may never be) a millionaire.
Perspective is everything. Contentment has to do with acknowledging and rejecting the pursuit of flesh-driven, selfish desires. Radical devotion calls for believers to prayerfully empty their minds and hearts of all their extravagant visions of comfort and material prosperity. Renewing the mind involves cultivating a heart of gratitude for what God has given us. As to material sacrifices, when the Christian can bring himself to make them, he will surely find that it is well worth the effort to live modestly even when the money is available for greater comforts. Think what benefit those leftover resources will mean for future needs and investments in God’s kingdom. Eternity is forever.