Tonight, I’ll keep it short and sweet.
After our maiden session of tennis, HY and I sat down, mildly exhausted, and spoke briefly about how I played like Roger Federer contentment. I remember telling her that I’ve never experienced contentment as much as I have experienced it now. I no longer feel the need to want more things, or the urge to buy the latest things. And I thank God for that, because it goes against my carnal being.
It’s like, the less I have, the more I have to make do with what I have, hence I find myself efforting to be contented with whatever that I possess. On the contrary, I’d like to think that the more I have, the more I want – it’s ironic, because in the journey of life, we’ll never have enough. So if you want to learn about contentment, my first, only and practical advice, is to de-accumulate.
HY then summed up my sentiments with one phrase, typical of her being a lady of few words, “That’s because you do not covet”. And you know what? This absence of material desires is actually good for me. I looked at her and smiled.
I’ve said it before and so I’ll say it again – I could always be happier, but I am situationally contented.
One dollar to a poor man is as valuable as one dollar to a rich man. Having lots of one dollars does not change the value of one dollar. Both men are limited to the same available activities and purchasing power that one dollar innately offers. However a dollar spent in Shanghai will yield different things as opposed to a dollar spent in Seoul or Singapore. There are a lot of thoughts on this that I could elucidate, but I will not.
It gets me thinking about the way we ought to spend our money. In recent years I’ve progressed from being a frivolous spender to a prudent one. (And how I thank God for that!) I’ve always remembered the wise words of CS that, “It’s not how much you earn, but how much you save”, that really matters.
HY and I are obviously presented with a more challenging financial situation now. However, what I am spending now is not far from what I was spending when I received a lot more. Simply put, our quality of life has not worsened. The only difference is a reduction in how much I get to save and invest. I also genuinely believe that I’d have lived the same quality of life with the same spending philosophies (being frugal) even if I wasn’t working in church. In a nutshell, it doesn’t mean that just because I have more, means I have to spend more.
I do not think that anyone around us can honestly say that his or her needs are not met. It’s always about the wants that we struggle with. Hence, I concur that expenses should be borne out of necessity and perhaps, very occasionally, some frivolity (just to pamper ourselves). But should we get that order confused and start living in indulgence, we will never be satisfied because we will always want something more.
One key then, is contentment. All I know is that naked I came and naked I will go. The last thing I’d want is to live a life that cannot let go of itself. Let’s not get carelessly caught up in meaningless pursuits – we can’t keep anything we own anyway.
Another key, which tends to be overlooked in the light of contentment, is stewardship. We must be careful in being good stewards of our resources (of time, energy and money) because at the end of the day our stewardship will be audited by God. We must understand that nothing we own belongs to us in the first place; we’re just being put in charge of it for the appointed time. We must effort to hold fast to what we believe in and not compare it with how others are spending their resources – they will be held accountable for their decisions.
The last and most important key, is trusting in God. It is this key that allows me to look forward in hope, knowing that God will go before me and will equip, empower, enrich and enable me to do His purpose, for His glory.
I know I have veered off a little from the intended subject of this post, but I hope that all of us will examine the way we approach the value of money and to spend it wisely, appropriately and with purpose, and not for the sake of spending it.