Tucked away near the end of Paul’s first letter to Timothy is a little statement that packs a big punch, Paul states very clearly that if he had food and clothing, he would be content (1 Tim 6/8) and that’s it.
To be content is to be satisfied, fulfilled, gratified and happy. Paul if he has food to eat and clothes to wear is happy. I genuinely think I’d struggle with that because my life and my house are quite full of stuff. Could I really be happy without music, games, books, films, TV, the internet, magazines, and stuff? I would be an advertiser’s nightmare if I was.
Paul was fully satisfied in God, he was completely fulfilled in his relationship with God through Jesus Christ and as a result I imagine it would be impossible to sell Paul a loan, a new car, rearrange his finances or persuade him to buy a bigger house if they didn’t help him achieve his purpose in serving God. There was a direct connection between happened to Paul on the inside and what he needed on the outside. I wonder what would happen to personal debt if this connection was made more often.
So what is the connection between being content and working with those in need, in debt, who are poor in whatever shape or size we find them? I think it has to do with what we’re modelling, what example we set, what dreams and aspirations we encourage and answering the question, ‘What does it really mean to be happy and fulfilled?’
It’s not about living in poverty or even rejecting the good things of life but redirecting our idea of what those good things are away from things that can be bought and sold to the things that can’t, like people, like creation, like good conversation. A heart that has learnt how to be content is one that is free to be generous, rich in good deeds and willing to share (1 Tim 6/18).
At this point the Christian life as well as the Christian faith becomes so much more attractive because to attain it, unlike today’s consumer dream, is in everyone’s reach.