I’ve been getting ready for the second message in our Money Matters message series. This Sunday we will be taking a look at the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14–30.
In this parable, the master entrusts each of his three servants with a different sum of money. To the first, he gives five talents. To the second, he gives two talents. And to the third, he gives one talent. Keep in mind this is no small amount of money. One talents was worth approximately 25 years worth of wages for a common laborer.
The application for us is that in this life, we have all been entrusted with money and possessions by our master. Some of us have been entrusted with more. Some of us with less. Nevertheless, each of us has been given a tremendous amount. It is more than we realize.
Yet, we are surrounded by affluence. It is not hard to find other people who have more than we have. We are that servant with two talents, but it seems like all our neighbors around us have been given five. It is easy to become envious of other’s possessions. It is a struggle to live content. We want to keep up with the Joneses.
This month we celebrate Thanksgiving. While we talk about the importance of Thanksgiving, there are many Americans who are filled with less than Thanksgiving. I find it very interesting how we have this national holiday set aside to give thanks for all we have been given and then on the very next day so many of us go out of our way to fight, scratch, and claw for things we don’t have. How thankful are we really?
We have much we can learn from God’s Word about contentment. Paul says in the Book of Philippians:
I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. Philippians 4:12 (ESV)
The secret to contentment has very little to do with possessions. It is all about the place of God in our lives. I wanted to end this week’s email by sharing a few thoughts on how to fight the temptation of envy:
Seek Jesus first! Jesus said to seek first the kingdom of God and that everything else will be given us as well (Matthew 6:33). The key is to seek first the kingdom of God and not the everything else. God will provide the everything else, but it starts with seeking him. When we seek first the kingdom of God, it will shape our priorities and desires. Many of the things we once desired will no longer be important.
Think about those areas in your life where you sense a lack. Maybe it is with your time. Are you seeking first the kingdom of God with your time? If there are not enough hours in a day, then I can most assuredly say that you are not seeking God with the use of your time. God gave you 24 hours in a day and that was no mistake. God knew what he was doing. He gave you just the right amount of time to do what he intends for you to do. If you don’t have enough time, then you are doing more than he intended for your to do. It means that some of it will have to go. Make God’s priorities to be your priorities and believe him to multiply your minutes.
Focus on what you have been given. This is huge! Because of the affluence around us we are constantly made aware of the things we do not have. But focus on what you have been given. Focus on what you have today that you maybe did not have a year ago or even ten years ago. Many of our necessities today, were once considered luxuries. When we constantly focus on what we don’t have it is difficult to fully appreciate what we do have. The messages we see in commercials on TV is that our life is not complete until we have purchased the new product. Maybe we need to tune those messages out a bit more and tune into God’s Word.
Give and invest in others. I am not talking about giving your leftovers. We are really good at discarding our used and unwanted stuff. It makes us feel good to give that old coat away that we no longer wear. We anonymously put it in a box or donate to a drive. That is not what I am talking about here. Give of yourself. Invest with your time. Make your gift sacrificial. Instead of buying that new coat for yourself this year, buy that new coat for someone else and make due with your old coat from last year.
The irony in all this is that the secret of contentment has nothing to do with getting more. That is a thirst that cannot be quenched. The secret of contentment is all about giving. The more you let go of your possessions. The more you let go of your desire for control. The more you let go and give yourself to Jesus the more you will discover his joy and satisfaction.
Remember in the end, none of it is yours in the first place. And in the end there will come a day when he will ask how you did with what he entrusted you with. Will you hear the words, “well done good and faithful servant?” Having more is not all it is cracked up to be. There are many in this world who have achieved the heights of wealth and fame, but their lives were still as empty as before. There is only one who will fill our cup. Give it all over to him, and you will get back more than you could ever dream or imagine.
So how about you? What are some ways you fight envy? What are ways you live Thanksgiving?
Have a great week,