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Living as many of us do in a world of increasing financial prosperity, it's easy to get caught up in the assumption that more money is what we have to acquire in order to be more happy. We take it for granted that a higher standard of living will bring with it more peace of mind, greater joy, and a measure of relief from the problems that hurt our families. The only problems that money will solve, however, are money problems. And since most of our more serious problems have nothing to do with money, we should not be so foolish as to think that a higher standard of living will make us any happier. Money's promise to make us happy is a very doubtful promise.
In fact, a greater abundance of this world's goods may make our families more unhappy. Though we never seem to foresee it, more money often brings with it worse problems than we had to start with. As Solomon observed, "Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep" (Eccl. 5:12). The happiest families are not the wealthiest -- they are the families that are grateful for whatever they have, whether it is much or little, and are able to enjoy life whether or not they ever have any more than at present. So it is not wealth itself, but having a godly attitude toward our possessions that produces peace of mind and gladness in the family. This week, let's consider this vital fact: contentment is an important ingredient in the happiness of our families.
Haven't we all known families that were quite poor but tremendously happy? How can they be happy? The key is obviously contentment, a peaceful satisfaction with the blessings God has already provided, regardless of what may or may not be gained in the future. Deep, rich family relationships thrive in the natural soil of contentment and gratitude, not in the hothouse of financial prosperity. And if we've not yet learned this lesson, our families are probably suffering as a result of our ignorance. Paul wrote that "godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content" (1 Tim. 6:6-8). If contentment is important in general, it is especially important to the family. Covetousness is a family killjoy!
Monday: Philippians 4:11-13
Key Idea: Contentment means that we do not require more to be happy than we already have.
Questions for Family Growth: What did Paul say that he had learned? How would you describe the difference between contentment and laziness? What do we learn from Job about what godly contentment is? See Job 1:21 and 2:10.
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 23:17,18.
Tuesday: Hebrews 13:5,6
Key Idea: The failure to be grateful and content is a sin against God.
Questions for Family Growth: How might we define "covetousness"? What do you think are its causes? Why does the Christian not have any need to be covetous? Does covetousness affect the family? See Prov. 15:27.
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 23:19-21.
Wednesday: 2 Corinthians 8:1,2
Key Idea: In times of need, we should remember to count all the blessings we've been given.
Questions for Family Growth: What commendable thing is said about the Macedonians? What is worse than poverty? See Prov. 15:16,17. How is it possible to have "nothing" and yet possess "everything" (2 Cor. 6:10)?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 23:22.
Thursday: 1 Timothy 6:17-19
Key Idea: In times of abundance, we should remain humble and reverent before God.
Questions for Family Growth: In this passage, what warnings are given to the rich? Based on what Paul says, is wealth something to be desired? See 6:9,10. What was the problem of the rich man described in Lk. 12:13-21?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 23:23.
Friday: 1 Timothy 6:6-8
Key Idea: Our families will profit greatly from the combination of godliness and contentment.
Questions for Family Growth: What is the "great gain" that comes with godliness with contentment? How permanent is our possession of the things of this world? What assurance did the Lord give us in Mt. 6:33,34?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 23:24,25.