Being Thankful…A thing of the past?
By Chris Rathbone
It doesn’t take one long to realize after watching the news a couple of minutes or reading the front page of a major newspaper that this nation is in trouble. Every day there is a new headline, new scandal or supposed new scandal, another demonstration, another protest, etc. Violence in our streets is a common news story every day. People are attacked verbally and physically, property is destroyed, and law enforcement is vilified if they try to do anything to stop all of it. This group or that group is filing a lawsuit daily or being interviewed by a major news outlet about how they don’t have this or that. People are crying out for free healthcare, free college, free money, free, free, free……shall I go on?
It seems as though no matter how much one has or how blessed we are in this nation as a whole; we are never satisfied. There is an attitude of entitlement that runs rampant in the hearts of many. It’s the belief that they deserve everything they want or desire just simply because they were born. Debt is out of control. College students borrow thousands upon thousands of dollars in student loans knowing they either won’t be able to pay it back or that it will take years and years to settle the debt. Many of them now believe they shouldn’t have to, but that the American taxpayer should pay it for them. Young families who want what their parents worked 40 years to have, will borrow till they are so far in debt they end up losing everything, often even their marriage and family. No matter how much we have, many continue to want more and more. Enough is never enough. Advertisers continually cater to people’s discontentment to sell them things that they do not need nor can really afford. So many keep looking for fulfillment from those things and never find it, thus the never-ending cycle continues, all the while ignoring what they have already.
Discontentment is where much of the problem lies. The human flesh is never satisfied. Unbelievers are fooled into thinking that one day they will find the perfect object, possession, person, etc. to fill that void inside that will bring the contentment for which they are so desperately longing. Many Christians are fooled into thinking they need more than Jesus in this life and will waste precious time, money, and resources pursuing that which will never satisfy them. All the while Satan keeps on lying and laughing because he has fooled most of this world into believing that they will find contentment and satisfaction in anything but Jesus. In all this pursuit of fulfillment, man completely ignores and refuses to recognize what he has already been given.
We can have a beautiful home or maybe a home that is just what we need, yet we keep wanting a larger one. We can have a dependable car with nothing wrong with it and we’ll go trade for another one and get a monthly payment to boot. Our closets are filled with clothing, some still have tags on them because we’ve never worn them, and we’ll go to the mall and buy more. Many will have plenty of money in the bank and will continue to work their fingers to the bone and sacrifice time and family just to make a buck more. Appliances are working fine but we’ll have to update anyway. The rich man keeps wanting to get richer and the poor man often spends all his time trying to get to the place of the rich man and so the cycle of discontentment continues…. on and on.
Paul wrote in Philippians 4:11-13 “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in things, I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Verse 13 of this text is often taken out of context. It is often quoted to state to others as if we can accomplish anything with Christ strengthening us. While I agree that we can accomplish more than we can imagine through Christ, I don’t think Paul was talking about being a better athlete or becoming a millionaire! Those things may not be God’s will for us. In this context, Paul is talking about being content in whatever circumstance he finds himself. Paul was saying he has contentment, not because of what he had but because of Who he had!!!! He was content in Christ whether he had a lot or a little. Regardless of where he found himself in life, his circumstances nor his financial status mattered little, for he was content and fulfilled in Jesus and he had the strength to face all things with Jesus.
Christian, has discontentment caused you to miss out on what you have already? Have you been neglecting your worship and thanksgiving that God so richly deserves? Have you been so busy seeking more and more that you’ve forgotten the blessings that you have all around you? Stop wasting precious time and resources on things that will never fulfill you nor bring you the contentment. Look around and realize how richly we have been blessed. Find your contentment in Jesus, regardless of what you may or may not have in this life. Every day we should be thankful, but this month of November, we will have an opportunity to focus our hearts even more on the blessings we have in this life. Don’t let discontentment and the devil still your joy and thankfulness. Focus your heart, look around and see what you already have, and give God glory, honor, praise, and thanksgiving! He is worthy just because He is God! But how much more we should worship Him because of all He does for us! Don’t let thanksgiving be a thing of the past.
Preacher Chris Rathbone serves as Pastor at Mine Creek Baptist Church.