Jesus once said,
the pagans run after all these things
And so do we.
Doing volunteer work, I'm poorer than your average millionaire. But, in the context of Papua, I'm much better off than most of the people that I live among. And that is exactly not the point. Anytime we focus on our relative economic standing, we're looking down the wrong path...and it's a shortcut to unhappiness.
I'm fortunate to rub shoulders with people from all levels of the economic strata and find that in every sector, from dirt poor to filthy rich, you'll find people who have serious cases of contentment. And, you'll also find, across that same spectrum, others who say they are following Jesus but appear to be running full tilt after 'all these things.'
The former group of people have a passion for life. The latter, a passion for stuff. The contented crowd tends to be very free with whatever stuff they end up entrusted with, be it a big pile or a widow's mite. The running crowd tend to be so focused on getting that they miss out on both the delights of what they already have...and the fun of giving some of it away.
One of the interesting things to me is that when Jesus spoke those words (Matthew 6:32), the 'things' that He observed the pagans running after weren't BMW's or McMansions...no, these pagans were stressing about the necessities of life. You can sense Jesus' sadness and pity as He watches these folks sprinting after Casseroles, Cokes and Levis like panicked refugees trying to get on the last flight out of Saigon. The wild thing is that Jesus says that God knows that we need our Casseroles, Cokes and Levis. I can imagine Him saying to us,
Relax. Pursue me. Pursue life in my invisible realm...
and I'll make sure you're fed, watered and clothed.
One of the greatest gifts we can ever receive is the gift of contentment, and like most good things, I'm finding it flows freely into our lives out of a connectedness to Jesus.