The Power of Gratitude

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” – 1 Timothy 6:6-8

Every day of our lives, we are the unwitting recipients of countless messages designed to foster discontentment. They are very effective at making us believe that we need something more.  In fact, according to one study, more than 60 percent of us always have something in mind that we look forward to buying.

That’s what makes this month’s verses seem so out-of-synch with our daily experience. What? Content with only food and clothing? Why, that’s downright un-American! Or so it seems. But do you know what else it is? It’s liberating.

My wife and I recently decided to give away my car.  It needed a cost prohibitive repair, so we gave it to a ministry that fixes cars and then gives them to needy families.  The car had 165,000 miles on it and a number of dents. It had been hit a couple of times while parked in our former neighborhood in Chicago.  A tree branch even fell on it once, denting the roof.  Because of its high mileage, we never bothered to fix the dents.

When I was working in corporate America, I would drive into the parking lot of my office building and pass lots of new cars. Driving that old car gave me frequent opportunities to practice contentment.

What helped the most was reminding myself that having a paid-off car gave us the financial freedom to build savings targeted toward being able to leave my corporate job one day to write and speak full-time. The more I dwelled on that benefit, the more thankful I felt. In the process, I saw firsthand that gratitude drives contentment and serves as a powerful antidote to our culture’s constant encouragement to want something more.

Instead of always having something in mind that we look forward to buying, what if we always had something in mind that we were thankful for?

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