Choosing Contentment Over Consumerism

In a trash-laden world outgrown by consumer desires, a sole robot sets out to clean up after careless humans.

Yes. I’m talking about the Disney Pixar movie WALL-E.

It may be an animated cartoon, but the drab images of waste and the stark reality of consumption are hard to ignore when we find ourselves drowning in endless pursuits, longing for a simpler way of life.

Filled with an empty longing

If you’ve seen the movie, picture it with me. The film opens with a panoramic view of New York City, washed out in a dismal palette of brown and gray. Towers of trash dwarf New York skyscrapers, and a haze of dust cloaks the blue sky.  Earth is a wasteland.

Motivated by nothing but food and entertainment, humans are depicted with portly bodies, glued to their floating chairs. Living from one purchase to the next, humans obsess over the newest, brightest, and best.

Seems far-fetched and silly. But, if you’ve seen the movie, you know that the cartoon world feels uncomfortably familiar to our consumer-driven reality.

Just one more pair of shoes.

I think I need the latest iPhone model.

Ooooo did you see the floral skinny jeans in this week’s JCPenney ad?

Our wish list goes on forever, never leaving us satisfied. Our souls are filled with an empty longing, always searching for the next best thing.

But will things ever satisfy? When we feel lonely, when we are in want, we click around for hours on shopping sites, adding items in our virtual cart and taking them out only to do it all over again.

It’s an endless cycle of consumption. And we are consuming any sense of contentment in the process.

“Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income (Ecclesiastes 5:10).”

Live by conviction not circumstance

It’s easy to think that we will be content when we have enough. Or that we should learn to be content with what we have. But contentment has nothing to do with the circumstances that surround us. The solution is not in how much or how little we own. Th answer is not in our income or our circumstances. It is in our conviction to trust God in whatever season of life He places us.

“Then Jesus said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions’ (Luke 12:15).”

So if life does not consist in our possessions? Where does life exist?

In the parable in Luke 12, a foolish man builds a barn for himself to fill it with grain. But that night he dies and looses all he has prepared for himself.

Life is not about ourselves. Life exists beyond ourselves.

In the verses following this parable, Jesus tells us that life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. We ought not worry. When we trust in Him, we are no longer concerned for our own temporal benefit. Our purposes are eternal.

His sustenance is not situational

Contentment does not exist in having everything we want. Contentment exists in knowing this world will not satisfy. Contentment exists beyond our current reality. Contentment exists when we realize that only He is enough.

It is easy to view material wealth as a sign of God’s blessings, but our worldly riches are often our downfall. Whether you are rich or living in poverty, He sustains us in whatever economic situation we encounter.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:12-13).”

As I think about Christmas this year… sure, there are a few things that I want. I’d love a few new dresses. And next time I go shopping, I’ll probably buy a pair of black high heels I need to replace. But I try to avoid an attitude of wanting and gathering more for myself.

In fact, people often ask me why I don’t have my ears pierced. And it’s for that very reason. I don’t have any earrings. And, I know, that if I get my ears pierced, I will want a pair of earrings to go with every outfit. I will want, want, want, and want. Why would I give up my current spirit of contentment for a greedy desire to constantly want more?

I mean… really… How can you want more and be content at the same time? Would you rather have a life of empty longing for the next best thing or a life of fulfilled enjoyment in what you have?

I choose to be content.

Why? Because He is more than enough. Everything else is fleeting. Only he remains.

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’ (Hebrews 13:5).”

Choose to have a spirit of thankfulness this Thanksgiving, and choose to remain thankful through the holiday season because we have the greatest gift we could possibly attain… Christ Jesus!

“More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ (Philippians 3:8).”


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