We don't have a flat screen TV. We have a 15-year-old 27-inch big box of a TV. It was my graduation present when I finished college. It works fine. We can watch everything we want to watch. It's just not the latest and greatest technology.
My girls think we're the most deprived household on the block. According to them, we're the last family on the planet that doesn't have a flat screen TV. Every time they go to a friend's house that has a flat screen TV, they come home and tell us how wonderful it is.
When it comes to TV, my girls have a problem with contentment. Contentment is simply being happy with what God has provided for you. Contentment rules out jealousy and anger.
Yet, being content doesn't just apply to our material possessions. It applies to being content in every aspect of our lives, from our jobs to our families to our bodies. It's easy to look at your neighbor or friend and think that they have the world by the tail. You think, "If I only had their (looks, job, house, etc.), I could be content." But that statement is a lie.
When we're living our lives focused on what we don't have instead of what we do have, there will always be "one more thing" that we think we need to be content. To learn contentment, we have to pull the focus off of what we don't have and put the focus back on God and all that He has done for us.
Philippians 4:19 says "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus." God promises to meet every single one of our needs, but He doesn't promise to do it in our way or our time. He also doesn't promise to give us every single one of our hearts' desires. He promises to meet our needs. And He wants us to be content with His provision.
Contentment is a learned behavior. Human nature isn't naturally content. It always strives to want more. I think that often the more we have, the more we want. We're materialistic by nature. Yet, Paul tells us in Philippians 4:11-12 that he learned contentment.
If contentment can be learned, it can also be taught. We want to teach our kids now how to be content with what they have, so when they get older, they aren't always striving after the next best thing. We don't want our kids to live a life of misery and discontent as adults, so we need to work with them now to create an attitude of contentment.
- Examine your own attitude. Are you constantly striving to get something new? Do you model an attitude of contentment? If you are always talking about something that you want -- whether tangible or intangible -- or if you're frequently talking about things that make you discontent, then you're modeling an attitude of discontent. Ask God to help you be content with what He has provided. Then, be vocally grateful for those things.
- Have your kids write down on a piece of paper 10 things that God has provided for them. Talk about your lists. Have them explain why they chose the things they did. Talk about how God provides for us. He provides beauty in the natural world. He provides friends and families. He provides food and shelter. When we look longingly at the things that someone else has, we are telling God that we are discontent with what He has provided. Not only is it an attitude of discontentment, it's an attitude of ingratitude.
- Look up facts about your kids' favorite animals. Talk about how God has provided everything that animal needs. Read Matthew 6:26, "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" Talk with your kids about how if God supplies the needs of the animals, He has said He will supply all our needs as well. When He does, He wants us to be content with what He has supplied.
- Create a code word with your kids that will be a signal your family can use to hold one another accountable in your attitudes. It can be something fun or something no one else would notice. Whenever someone in your family exhibits an attitude of discontent, anyone can say the code word as a reminder that God doesn't want us to be discontent. He wants us to be content with what He provides. The discontent family member then needs to state one thing for which he is grateful God has provided.
Contentment isn't easy, but it is something we can learn. If we take the focus off what we don't have and put it on the things that God has provided, we can quickly conquer the discontentment monster -- even when it comes to a flat screen TV.