EARLIER this week a small miracle occurred at our house when all four of our boys went to bed, and to sleep, without the need for repeated encouragement.
After a very full day, we decided to spend some of this bonus time watching an episode of a documentary series.
It had been so long since we’d watched something that wasn’t streamed, and I forgot just how many ads there are on ‘free-to-air’ TV.
Every few minutes we were exhorted to buy something in order to satisfy some need we didn’t know we had.
Of course, this is nothing new, and it’s by no means confined to our TVs.
Our letterboxes are filled with catalogues and these days it feels like every second post in our social media feeds are an advertisement for something.
These are all symptoms of the age we live in. We’re constantly urged to be discontent and told covetousness and greed are good, and retail therapy is an acceptable form of self-care.
To make matters worse, these days we don’t have be content with what’s available in our local community.
We can shop online and buy anything available around the world 24/7 without having to leave home. In such a world, contentment is a rare commodity.
In the face of this, the words of Paul at the end of his letter to the Philippians can seem both incredibly strange and also immensely appealing.
Through his life, Paul knew what it was to have plenty and to have little.
He knew what it was to have a full belly and to go hungry. He’d been through good times and bad. Through it all, he says he’s learnt to be fully content, regardless of what he has.
He knows the secret to satisfaction isn’t found in the stuff we own and it’s not the objects we have which spark joy in our life (sorry Marie Kondo).
No, contentment, he says, is found in God alone. Paul is able to rejoice, not matter what happens and not matter what he has, because his joy doesn’t come from his possessions but his relationships. Real joy he says is in knowing, and being known, by God.
Paul also reminds us God knows our deepest needs as human beings and he alone is able to fully satisfy them.
Whenever the ads came on in our show last night, I found myself reaching for the mute button on our remote.
As easy as that was, it’s impossible to mute the constant cry to want more, to buy more, to have more that bombards us almost every moment of every day.
In the face of that, if we can learn to trust God, to bring our requests and needs to him.
Paul says we too can learn the secret of contentment and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds, including from the allure of greed and the damage of discontentment.
And he will satisfy us with the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
George Hemmings, Christ Church Anglican