“For I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.  I know how to be abased and I know how to abound.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  Philippians 4:11,12,13

“and you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field…..or anything that is your neighbors.” Deuteronomy 5:21

Well maybe it’s not my neighbor’s.  I mean I don’t want to take that person’s wife from them, I don’t plan on stealing his car; but I sure do want one that is just like it.  Just take a look at mine and then take a look at that one; that one is sweet!

Covet, not a word we hear or use very much; especially in general speech.  Many might recognize it from the ten commandments and have some idea that it is not a good thing.  Dictionary.com has the definition as: to desire wrongfully, inordinately or, to wish for, eagerly.

No we don’t use covet much; but there are words that get used often, want, desire and even to sometimes dream.  And here’s the thing with those words; they can be fine words, depending on the context/environment that they are used in.

Paul is writing to the church in Philippi.  Paul had ministered to that church and after leaving them, had been thrown into prison for preaching the gospel.  The Philippians had heard of this and, assuming Paul was in trouble, was in terrible need, they took up a collection an sent him the proceeds.  The person by whom the gift was to be presented to Paul, fell ill and Paul has him return to Philippi with his letter.  What Paul’s great concern was that the Philippians did not see Paul’s imprisonment nor their messenger’s illness as a reason for distress.  His letter is one of the most joy filled of his letters as he tries to communicate the fact that, through the Spirit, anyone can and should be content in whatever surroundings they find themselves in; whether trials or triumphs.  For Christ is above all circumstances and will cause all to work in the favor of the person who believes in Christ.  That in desiring to do the will of Christ, in wanting to walk in His ways, in dreaming of a time of eternal fellowship with Jesus Christ; any and all earthly circumstances are endurable.

Now understand the earthly context looks at it quite differently.  All too often, in the desiring of what we don’t have; we, in turn, look at what we do have with contempt.  Look at the wonderful house with its lush yards, its sumptuously large closets and incredibly adorned kitchen or gadget filled family room.  Sigh!  Now look at where I live by comparison; weed filled yard, with tiny little closets and a shabby, dingy kitchen.  We do this with people as well.  Look at her or him, look at how attractive they are.  Look how affectionate and compatible they seem to be.  Now look at who I’m stuck with.  Listen to how they talk to me.  We do it with situations also.  Why can’t I be retired?  Why can’t I have a job?  Why can’t I have a new job?  Wow those people who work for themselves have it made.  Each one of those brings about a comparison of the person’s current situation and how contemptuous they see it.

And there’s still more danger to the earthly concept of desire and action based on contempt; it is never satisfied.  When have you ever heard someone of wealth, say they are satisfied with what they have and don’t need more?  The person always buying the new car, wanting to know what the latest thing coming out is.  The person married to the super model; whether male or female who ends up cheating on them showing utter contempt for the other person.

Dear Sisters and Brothers; the contentment that Paul talks about is not in any way shape or form based upon earthly standards or measurements.  For one can never measure or put a limit on the resources, measure the capacity for giving or set a limit on the generosity of God, Our Father Almighty.  It is based on the Spiritual knowledge that all is in God’s control and therefore, God is all I’ll ever need.  Doubt that?  Ask the five thousand fed with five loaves and two fish.  Ask the widow who fed Elijah and her son with a never emptying jar of grain.  Ask the Israelites as they left Egypt and Egyptians were giving them gold, silver and livestock.  Ask Ruth as Boaz makes sure that there is plenty of grain in the field for her to pick up.   You see if you are in a place of need today; God knows that.  God wants you to be in a place of spiritual contentment knowing that He has all of creation at His disposal to meet your need.  If you are in a place of abundance, God wants you to be in a place of spiritual contentment, not just earthly contentment.  The spiritual contentment says I know that my abundance comes from God, to be used for God’s purposes and has nothing to do with my, effort to earn it, my talent to attain it, my righteous deserving of it.

When I ask; God give me this day…….I know it is never a good thing to look contemptuously on the blessings He has in turn, given me.  It is in the spirit of contentment, I can truly say; Thank you Dear Father.  Amen.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we greatly thank you for the manifest blessings You see fit to pour out on us daily.  Forgive us when we fall into the earthly trap of looking with contempt on those things which You have supplied, instead desiring different or more.  Give us spirits of contentment like Your Apostle Paul had; that we would know that You will meet every need abundantly no matter how the world would measure our situation.  That in so doing, we would live lives that praise Your Most Holy Name. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen