Newsflash: Christmas is three months away! Do not panic! Rather, consider this an invitation to ponder what it means to be content. Very soon, the “best sales events of the year” will commence. People of all ages will become kind and cooperative as they drop not-so-subtle hints regarding what should be under the Christmas tree. In no time at all, we will ignore the cries of Advent to wait, slow down, and draw near to God in expectation of the gifts of hope, peace, joy, and love that the Christ child will bring. Our more, more, more meters will turn on, and we will trade family time for frenzied lines and clicks of the mouse. In today’s passage, Paul invites us to take stock of what is most important in our spiritual lives so that we will not wander from the faith and cause ourselves much grief.
The promise of “great gain in godliness combined with contentment” is clear. This reading offers a gut check for the people of God. From dust we came and to dust we shall return. After all, we seldom hitch a trailer of possessions to a hearse. Food and clothing—learn to be content with these, Paul instructs. Money is not evil; however, the pursuit of and the love of money distract from our responsibility to God. In our eagerness to obtain and protect our riches, we stray from our faith and from living out of contentment. When we stray from our faith and do not hold ourselves accountable for Christlike living, we cause pain in our own lives and in the lives of others.
Christmas is coming, but Advent comes first. Take care to make contentment and godliness a top priority in your life.
Dear Lord, save us from becoming “trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” May we attend to contentment and godliness in this life. Amen.
The Bible warns about the delusions that wealth brings, repeatedly directing readers’ attention to the poor and the destitute. Luke’s Gospel text culminates in Jesus’ story of the rich man and Lazarus. Only in the next life, when the rich man is rid of his riches, can he see Lazarus, now secure at Abra- ham’s side. First Timothy contains a series of warnings to pros- perous readers that having the basic necessities of life should be enough. Greed diverts attention away from the God “who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” And against the best wisdom of all the nancial planners of Judah, Jeremiah purchases the eld at Anathoth. The prophet invests his money in the divine promise, in the outlandish conviction that God is faithful.
• Read Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15. Where do you see God’s prom- ises in your life? How do you act on them? What keeps you from acting on them?
• Read Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16. In what setting do you experience a sense of God’s shelter?
• Read 1 Timothy 6:6-19. With what do you nd yourself content?
• Read Luke 16:19-31. How do you maintain an ability to see those in need? How do you address those needs?
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