Olympics: Gold or Goldless

goldWhen many of the Olympic athletes leave Rio, they will begin a new life.  Some will leave having achieved their dreams and winning either a gold, silver, or bronze medal; others will leave disappointed with themselves and their poor performance; and, there will be some who leave with a sense of contentment even though they did not win.

Contentment is a unique commodity: Money can’t buy it; poverty doesn’t provide it; and neither winning or losing can guarantee it.

For some people, contentment is hard to find.  This is because they’ve never matured beyond the infantile attitude of thinking they’re the center of the universe.  They were born wanting more attention, drier diapers, and a bottle that provided a never-ending supply of milk.  As they grew older they wanted the fastest car, the shiniest wheels, and the finest leather interior.

The more is better attitude never understands that having the “best” and being “blest” are not one and the same; one may provide fame and fortune, but it’s the content of the other leads to a life of contentment.

The Apostle Paul discovered the secret of contentment: I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. ~Philippians 4:11-12

If you want to live a life of contentment, I suggest that you start by:

  • Seeking God’s will. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ. ~Philippians 3:8
  • Leaning on God: I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. ~Philippians 4:13
  • Trusting God’s promise: The peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 4:7
  • Living with an attitude of gratitude: in everything a give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. ~I Thessalonians 5:18
  • Learning to take an eternal perspective on life: Joseph said, You meant to harm me, but God intended it for a good purpose, so he could preserve the lives of many people. ~Genesis 50:20

If, as Paul said, “godliness with contentment is a great gain,” what is a life without godliness and void of contentment?

Empty-Handed

handIn his lifetime, John D. Rockefeller was one of the wealthiest men alive. When he died, his accountant was asked: “Just how much did John D. leave?” The accountant wisely answered: “All of it.”

The words of Solomon confirm this truth: “As he came from his mother’s womb he shall go again, naked as he came, and shall take nothing for his toil that he may carry away in his hand (Ecclesiastes 5:15).”

This life’s goods will never make you good enough to get into heaven. This is a truth that Jesus shared with His disciples: “Be on your guard against covetousness in any shape or form. For a man’s real life in no way depends upon the number of his possessions (Luke 12:15).”

In light of this verse, ask yourself a couple of questions:
• Do my possessions possess me?
• Am I more focused on the here and now or on the there and then (heaven)?

You can stuff all the stuffing in the world into your Thanksgiving turkey, but he is still dead. Likewise, none of the stuff you’ve owned will be of any value to you once you are dead.

Now take a moment and read Ecclesiastes 5:15 again, and then compare it to what John says in the Revelation: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord . . . they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” It’s not the stuff of the world or your possessions that follow you—it is your deeds!

When you read Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, you can see that he has the “deeds” of life in mind: “The foundation is laid already, and no one can lay another, for it is Jesus Christ himself. But any man who builds on the foundation using as his material gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay or stubble, must know that each man’s work will one day be shown for what it is. The day will show it plainly enough, for the day will arise in a blaze of fire, and that fire will prove the nature of each man’s work. If the work that the man has built upon the foundation will stand this test, he will be rewarded. But if a man’s work be destroyed under the test, he loses it all. He personally will be safe, though rather like a man rescued from a fire (I Corinthians 3).”

If your heart is full of the world, you will stand before Jesus empty handed. If, however, your heart is full of Jesus, you will stand the test and be rewarded (2 Timothy 4:7-8).