Friday, January 27, 2017

Free from Envy

My January Bible study has me working through verses on contentment. And it's been straight to the heart. "So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." Psalm 90:12 →To apply: to make use of as relevant, suitable, or pertinent; to put to use, especially for a particular purpose; to devote or employ diligently or with close attention. Lord, teach me to devote my heart unto wisdom, {understanding, too} --with close attention. 

The other day, I shared a post (The Big Happinessabout losing the small joys in search of the big happiness and that maybe it's the small joys anyway, that bring the big happiness. The small joys in being thankful for 'the enough' God gives me daily and not looking at what others have is key to contentment. 

Today, the focus is about communication with others and in keeping the envy away from my relationship with them. When God has given me His spirit and instructs me to be content with what I have, He wants me to pay close attention, because through everything, He will never leave me nor forsake me. Not only that, but He is my helper. So no matter what others have, I can be glad for them because when there is a need, God will provide, and it will be right and good and enough. No need for envy or wanting what others possess because I can choose to want the *enough* that I am Divinely given. 

To be faithful in the little (Luke 16:10) is a good place to start if comparing my life to someone else's. Am I true to God in being thankful for what I already have? Am I honorable in taking care of what I've been given? 

And what is it that I admire in another person, anyway? Their stuff? Do I appreciate their success more than the value of their character? Some good envy evaluation questions right there. 

How to be free from envy in relationships with others? Be faithful in the little, be thankful for much, appreciate character more than success. 

"Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me." Hebrews 13:5, 6

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Big Happiness

The struggle with being content is life long, it seems. Why do others always seem to be successful when we struggle to just break even every month? I tend to look at what others are doing and what they have, but really, I don't know their whole story. Maybe they are losing the small joys in pursuit of the 'big happiness'. My 'little' that God has given me may be really all I can handle and is quite possibly just right for my life. 

I'm still working through the Scripture Writing Plan I was doing last year with new themes for 2017. I've really liked this way of studying. It gives me time to think about a concept and apply.  For January, the study theme has been about contentment and what a way to start out the new year with thoughts of what is actually 'enough' for me. And I'm not talking about basic needs but more about wants that I really don't need. What is my motivation? To keep up with friends and family? To make it seem that I am super successful? What defines success anyway? 

Content → (n) power of containing, holding capacity; (adj) satisfied with what one has or is; agreeing, consenting  [Synonyms: comfortable, gratified, at ease]

"Holding capacity" caught my attention as did the word, "agreeing". I'm connecting the dots here that I'm needing to agree with God that I am at my holding capacity least for this moment, this day--which brings to mind the verse in Matthew 6:11, "Give us this day our daily bread". Give me Lord, what is best and what only You know I can manage or contain. And my 'holding capacity' may change in the future..but that's in the future. "Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." Matthew 6:34. So if the evil in this world is enough for one day, so are the blessings, I would think. 

"A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked", Psalm 37:16. Not all wicked are rich and not all rich are wicked, I know. But when my heart is right, no matter what my possessions are, I am able to see that they are still better than anyone else's because they are divinely given by God who knows me, loves me, and wants what's best for me. To not take for granted the small joys in every day and in what God has given me, is the start of living life contented. To be assured that God is indeed in control, He knows my 'power of containing' for some things and lack of for others. God made us each unique in our talents, appearances, spiritual gifts, so why wouldn't He tailor His blessings to each individual? What works for someone else, may be entirely wrong for me and vice versa. Sure, it's good to have goals and dreams, but I need to evaluate and be willing to be 'at ease' in how God made me and in His provisions. To be at ease→ that's what just about everyone wants anyway, yet it's our level of appeasement that makes or breaks us when it comes to contentment. 

At ease→ (n) tranquil rest; freedom from concern, anxiety, solicitude; freedom from constraint

To ease→ (v) to free from anxiety or care; to lighten or lessen; to move or shift with great care

 And in my evaluation of what is enough for this moment, it's quite possible the small joys in every day are the big happiness after all. To agree with God that where He has me today is where I need to be whether it be my location, my possessions, my 'status' in life, and that my 'holding capacity' for all that, is sufficient for today. God wishes to ease with great care so that I may be at ease with Him and His plan for my life - blessings and trials alike. The 'big happiness'? Well, maybe I need to change my definition of what that means. The 'small joys' of being free from concern and anxiety because I'm trusting in the One who is the Great Reliever is really one big happiness.