‘Let your conduct be without covetousness, and be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).”’
At this time of year we find ourselves discarding rubbish that accumulated on Christmas day. I’m not talking about unwanted and useless presents, but about all that comes as a result of the usual worldly celebrations: torn wrapping paper, fragments of pulled crackers and their contents, food packagings, cartons, cans, bottles, etc., not to mention uneaten food. We sort it into recyclable and non-recyclable bins for our local council to take away.
If we are concerned about *global warming, pollution of the air and of our oceans, and the rapid demise of animal species, all on account of our overconsumption, we might find ourselves with a tinge of guilt. But taking action on that count is a hard proposition. The practical enormity of the problem is overwhelming, because of our insatiable desire for MORE: more possessions, more travel, more profit, more fun, more pleasure, more power, more kudos – the list goes on and on!
Why are we like this? Why can’t we just say no? How is it that we are caught in this inescapable desire for more and more?
We humans have this inbuilt lust. We are never satisfied with what we have, despite the fact that many of us have far more than we need. As I say this I’m mindful that the vast majority of people do not have enough. Many are without food, adequate clothing and a roof over their heads, which in itself is an inditement against us who selfishly want more.
This desire for more is a serious **flaw of character, and yet God promises He will give abundantly more to those who already have!
Jesus said, ‘“For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him (Matthew 13:12).”
Paradoxically He tells us that those with precious little – even that which they have – it will be taken away!
Let’s look into this by considering two of Jesus’s parables.
The golden rule for understanding portions of Scripture is to examine them within their contexts. Let’s take for example, ‘The Parable of the Sower’ which tells of ***seeds being scattered on various grounds. We discover that seed falling on ‘good ground’ produces a crop, sometimes as much as a hundredfold (Matthew 13: 8, 23). Seed that is scattered on any other ground is unproductive, and eventually dies. The seed is good, but it is of no use unless the ground nourishes it. God multiplies where He wills.
Another parable in Matthew’s gospel speaks of multiplication: ‘“So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents beside them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord (Matthew 25:20, 21).’
Considering this in its context, we discover that the parable is about the stewardship of talents that are given to the servants of Jesus. Each servant has the responsibility of using what is given to good effect. Enterprising faithful servants who have proven themselves to be responsible (V. 23) and productive are rewarded more by being given more (V. 29). The steward who had been given least had it taken away (V. 28) because he failed to use his talent in service to his master.
Jesus indirectly elucidates His parables of ‘more abundance’ by telling His disciples that if they make sacrifices in His service He will do abundantly more for them:
‘So He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come everlasting life (Luke 18:29, 30).”’
Being Satisfied with Less
We have these encouragements, warnings and promises; and hopefully we act in accordance with them. As we do, we can take heart and guidance from Paul’s words:
‘Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 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 (Philippians 4:11, 12).’
He also said, ‘But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content (1 Timothy 6:6-8).’
So let’s not be forever striving for more possessions and the things of this world; instead let us be contented with the abundance of the Lord’s provision (John 10:10).
*Climate Change Emergency
**Sin and It’s Consequences
***Christ the Seed