Friday, May 04, 2012


In the May 26th, 1994 issue of the popular Our Daily Bread daily devotional, Vernon Grounds tells of a story of a fifth century desert father called Arenius who happens to be visiting the great city of Alexandria back then. As he wanders through the many bazaars and markets, he cannot help but rejoice to realize there are so many things that he does not need. After all, being content with the very little that he has, he feels that he is actually very rich!

Abba Arsenius
Grounds then goes to compare the amount of goods in a typical supermarket in America. In 1976, the typical supermarket stocks about 9000 items. In 1994, it has become 30,000. That is a whopping over 330% increase! What are the necessary things and what are the superfluous articles? I suppose the big struggle is to separate the needs and the wants. Worse, in a world where people seem to want everything, they are are lacking the crucial skill even to know what they need.

Paul's exhortation to Timothy appears as follows: "But godliness with contentment is great gain" (1 Tim 6:6). How we need to learn to be content with what we have, and with what we do NOT have. How then do we cultivate a heart of contentment? It begins with trust. Who do we trust? What do we depend on?  The retreat master, Philip St Romain speaks of the problem with the contemporary person.

"Being preoccupied and living in a fog of desires, unresolved emotional pain, intellectual confusion, a state of being asleep to ourselves and life: This is how most people live! How sad! How to wake them up?" (Philip St. Romain, Caring for the Self Caring for the Soul, Liguori, MO: Liguori Publications, 2000, 5)

He then talks of the role of Christian Spirituality that works to accomplish 5 purposes.

  1. Learning to let go of our disordered desires and worldly attachments
  2. Centering our lives on God through Christ
  3. Healing and Reconciliation
  4. Changing old attitudes
  5. Living daily, one day at a time, learning from the past, and hoping for the future.
This is the way forward for those of us seeking a more contented heart and a peaceful soul. Indeed, these are the ways of godliness, and the path to becoming better people who are contented and happy with whatever we have.



AT said...

Thank you for this encouraging article on contentment. God bless.

Conrade Yap said...

Hi AT,

You're welcome.


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