Do you ever notice that you define yourself by specific things or circumstances that show up in your life? Maybe it’s like there’s this box you carry around with everything that defines you: your stuff, your work, your family, your kids, your gifts and talents, or your home.
But there’s a problem with looking at life like this because if this is how we see our lives it’s all too easy to become preoccupied with the wrong thing.
Think about all the stuff in the box. It’s “your” stuff, right? Or is it?
We tend to talk about our lives using words that highlight our ownership of those things and circumstances. Words like my, ours, and mine. And those words can make a huge difference on how we see the world. As long as we keep using these words, we can tend to believe that our stuff will make us happy and that putting more stuff into our boxes will make us even happier.
But the truth is just the opposite. Something radical happens when we look at our life as not really ours. When we view our life as really God’s gift to us—it changes everything. When we see that all the stuff we have is somehow connected to God and the story He wants to tell with our lives, it begins to change the way we see everything. When our world doesn’t revolve around us, our situations look a lot different.
That’s why this month, we want to explain something to kids about contentment. It is deciding to be happy with what you’ve got. In other words, you can choose to be happy because of what God has actually given you. You can choose to shift your focus away from what you don’t have and toward what God desires to do with the life you have. When you trust Him with your life, you become more focused on being grateful for everything He’s already given to you.
The Bible has a lot to say about contentment. This month, we’re going to unpack several of those moments where people learned something about contentment as well as some key principles about how we can live our lives focused on trusting God no matter what.
See, when it comes right down to it, contentment is a heart issue. It can’t be solved by getting the thing that’s off-limits, the thing that someone else has, or even more of a good thing you already have. In other words, contentment happens when we place our trust in the One who is able to meet our needs each day.
When you teach kids to see their life as a gift from God it sets them up for a life of contentment and fulfillment. There will be no reason to be distracted by what others have, or what’s off limits, or what we had in the past. And when all of us really trust God, we will be content with exactly what He has put in our box for today and won’t worry about the future.
We kick off our month of contentment with a closer look at the context around our memory verse. In Philippians 4:11b-13, the Apostle Paul wrote about contentment to the church in Philippi. Paul wrote that he has learned to be content no matter what circumstance he was facing, which was a pretty amazing thing to say considering he was writing this while he was under house arrest.
Bottom Line: When you focus on God, He can help you be content. No matter where you are in life, contentment is one of those things that is often difficult to find, even for kids! We pray that when kids focus on God and all that He’s done for them, they’ll find the strength they need to be content.
Our Memory Verse is Philippians 4:12b (NIrV), “I have learned the secret of being content no matter what happens. I am content whether I am well fed or hungry. I am content whether I have more than enough or not enough.” There will be moments when we are only focused on getting more and more stuff. But we need to remember that we can be content with what we have because we can do all things through God who gives us strength.
In 1 Kings 21:1-19, 27, we find King Ahab whining about not getting something he wants. A guy named Naboth owned a vineyard that Ahab desperately wanted. His wife, Queen Jezebel, took matters into her own hands and at Naboth’s expense, gets Ahab that vineyard.
Bottom Line: When you focus on what you don’t have, it can make you miserable. For Ahab, even though he got what he wanted, it was ultimately a bad move for him. God gives us so much. When we focus on what we don’t or even can’t have, we can become angry and bitter at God for not giving us what we want. God has our best in mind. We should trust Him no matter what.
We find the Israelites in Exodus 16:2-21; 17:1-4 focusing on what they used to have instead of focusing on God. As they were traveling in the wilderness, they longed to be back in Egypt where they had food and shelter. At the same time, they seemed to forget that in Egypt they were slaves! They were so caught up in what they used to have, that they were missing out on what God was doing in their lives right then and there.
Bottom Line: When you focus on what you used to have, you can miss what you have now. There are times we look back on parts of our life wanting to go back and live those moments again. Kids may want to go back to preschool when they didn’t have homework forgetting that they had an early bedtime AND had to take a nap during the day. When that happens, they forget that right now is pretty great. Times may be hard, but God has us here for a purpose. We can trust Him with the details.
This week we’ll take a look at Luke 12:13-21 and a story Jesus told about a rich fool. He was so focused on getting more and more that he missed out on opportunities to help others around him. We don’t want kids growing up so focused on their stuff that they miss out on what matters most: loving God and loving each other.
Bottom Line: When you focus on stuff, you can miss what matters. It’s not bad to have nice things. But when having those things and getting more of those things becomes all you think about, we may need to evaluate something. We can become so focused on our stuff that we miss out on the relationships we have. We pray kids will start to discover how to prioritize what matters most.
We’ll close out the month discovering a little more about one of Jesus’ teachings from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:25-34. Jesus knows that sometimes people worry about every little thing. By telling us about God’s care for the birds and the flowers, God will take care of everything we need.
Bottom Line: When you focus on God, you don’t have to worry. This could be a huge week for some kids in our ministries as they learn that God cares deeply for them and will take care of them. This might not look like they expect, but God will meet their needs.