Our family calls it the flood of 2003. One Saturday morning I stepped into ankle-deep water in the hallway outside our bedroom. I could hear water gushing somewhere close by and hurried to find the source. In the guest bathroom, water from the toilet supply line was shooting across the room. I turned off the water and began to survey the damage.
Carpets and other flooring upstairs were ruined. But the bigger mess was downstairs. The ceiling directly under the bathroom had fallen and paint slid down the walls. Water saturated everything in that half of the bottom floor of our house. We spent the rest of the summer repairing, replacing, and renovating.
The accident and the resulting damage to our home hit me hard. The physical challenge of the cleanup overwhelmed me, but I also grieved the loss of our stuff. Later on – when I was ready to hear it – God showed me my reaction to this material loss revealed much about what I treasured most.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus addressed this very issue (Matthew 6:19-21). He knows we humans tend to value the wrong things. We seek satisfaction, joy, and security in the fleeting things of this world. But jobs, possessions, money, and people cannot meet our deepest needs. They may temporarily mask our real need, but eventually discontentment rises to the surface again.
Stuffing lots of stuff isn’t the answer
We’ve been taught by the world that “stuff” is the answer. So we stuff all we can into the empty hole, but it never fills up. Only God can fully and permanently satisfy our spiritual need. When He becomes what we value most, then we will find true contentment.
During short-term mission trips, I’ve seen firsthand that Christians can be joyful and content without all the stuff we have in America. Believers in mud huts with dirt floors and thatched roofs ooze the joy of Christ. Brothers and sisters living in tiny Soviet block apartments experience the full life Christ gives.
Only Jesus can make us truly content
In fact, I believe our material “abundance” can foster discontent. Since we are used to having so much, we have convinced ourselves we need it all. We trade in perfectly good cars on ones that are newer, brighter, or faster and we up-size our homes even when we can’t afford it.
The apostle Paul learned contentment in material need or plenty because he did not base his attitude on his physical circumstances (Philippians 4:10-13). Paul looked to Christ for strength in every situation, including physical need. The only thing Paul could not do without was Christ.
I wonder, can we say the same?
If we are completely honest with ourselves, what would be on our list of things we can not do without?