‘And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.’
1 Timothy vs 6: NIV
This message is not a free pass for lack of ambition. Neither is it in any way a slur on those with financial wealth. For the reality is we all have different talents and paths. Some to build wealth, some to build nations, some to encourage and nurture, others to teach, and some to be home makers, to name just a few. None is more important than others, and all are vital cogs in the insurmountable wheels of God’s kingdom.
However, the challenges occur when we fail to appreciate the talents God blessed us with, and as a result neglect the paths we’ve been assigned, thus spending a significant portion of our lives wishing we’re like others; particularly those with financial wealth.
The meaning of sorrow, as stated in the dictionary is;
‘a feeling of deep distress caused by loss, disappointment, or other misfortune suffered by oneself or others.’
Ever found yourself spiraling into a hapless state of distress / depression as a result of feeling you simply don’t have enough? I know I certainly have. It is often the trick Satan uses to seize my peace and joy. And be in absolutely no doubt that this is one of his primary objectives – taking away our peace and joy.
I’ve fallen for this particular ploy time and time again. It is not only psychologically and emotionally damaging but also carries the potential to steer one away from one’s God designed path. In other words, rather than appreciate and focus on your true calling, much time and energy is spent wishing you had what others have; be it money, talents / gifts, or lifestyle. As a result, the focus needed to execute your purpose dwindles by the second.
In this perilous age of social media, wherein we’re incessantly bombarded with images of wealth, fame, glory, and seemingly perfect lives, it is all too easy to spiral into a mindset of ‘not enough’ – not having enough money, not having a nice enough house, children’s school not as upmarket as those of others; the list is endless.
This, my dear friend, is what leads to our sorrows. And please take note, the bible says, ‘and pierced themselves’. In other words, we are the ones doing the piercing – causing our own sorrows.
It is the relentless longing for more – money, assets, possessions, that is the route of evil. Not because we are evil but because of the damage / sorrow/ despair/ depression that such longing can lead to. We inadvertently do ourselves harm as a result of an insatiable desire to have more. Thereby allowing components of evil such as depression and greed to take hold of us.
I recently realised the only solution is clearly stated a few verses earlier.
‘So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.’
1st Timothy 6 vs 8
You and I need to learn to appreciate what we have, as opposed to constantly longing for what we wish we had.
Due to running creative writing and drama sessions at a holiday club, I’ve spent a lot of time with children during the past month. And I’ve come to realise the future of our world may well be in good hands. They are not only astute but can also be incredibly wise. Permit me to illustrate this point with what happened when I related the story of the foolish young turtle to a class of eight to ten year-olds a few days ago.
I take it you know the story of the foolish turtle!?
Right, here’s the short version.
A young turtle longs to be able to fly like a bird. So much so that all he does is complain to everyone around him. “I wish I could fly like the birds. It would be so much better to have wings. Why o why am I a turtle? I want to fly,” he moans.
To make matters worse, he is rather boastful. Often lauding his superiority to other turtles, and never failing to blow his own trumpet. In short, he is tiresome and annoying. The elders often implore him to show humility and appreciate what he is, but his stubborn pride does not avail.
“Young man, be grateful for your flippers. They enable you to swim,” says one of the elders.
But, he grows more and more resentful, looking down on other turtles for being complacent. One day, he decides to do something about it, and asks a goose to help him fly. The goose knows there’s nothing he can do to help the turtle; after-all, turtles were not created to fly. But he doesn’t want to hurt his feelings, so he says to him;
“This is a really busy period for me because I’m preparing to migrate to a warmer climate with my family before winter arrives. But maybe I can ask the others.”
When the goose asks the other geese, they laugh so much their bellies almost explode.
“Of-course we can’t help you fly,” they laugh. “You’re a turtle. Be satisfied with your flippers and go for a swim.”
But rather than give up, the turtle pleads with them to help him.
Finally, the goose comes up with an idea.
“Hang on, maybe there is something we can do. Two of us can fly side by side with a long stick in our beaks and the turtle can go in the middle and bite onto it. Then he’ll feel as though he’s flying.”
“That is a terrific idea,” replies one of the geese, as the others continue in stitches at the ridiculous notion of a flying turtle.
So, the two geese find a long stick and get turtle to go in the middle and bite onto it. Once in position they set-off.
The plan works perfectly.
As they soar across the skies, turtle looks down and beholds a sight he has never seen before -a world looking entirely different. Simply glorious!
When I asked the kids what happens next, their jaws dropped as they realised the inevitability of the impending disaster.
“Nooooooooo, he can’t help boasting, can he!? He opens his mouth to boast about how great he is and ends up falling,” they shrieked.
“And the moral is?” I asked.
“We should be happy with who we are and not try to copy others,” they replied.
“And we shouldn’t boast because it will always lead to our downfall,” added a young girl (pretty sure she’s eight years old). I was particularly impressed with her intuition.
If only we could relate this story to ourselves on regular basis. After-all, if we’re painfully honest, the reason we desire the fame and the riches is because we want to be seen to have more than others.
The focus of this week’s message is twofold. And I must confess that I more than most need to embrace it wholeheartedly.
1. The only way to find peace, fulfillment, and joy is to accept who you are.
2. A constant desire for copious sums of money and fame is the surest way to despair and self-destruction.
Appreciate and develop the talents God gave you, so that you can fulfill your potential and purpose.
Embrace who you are, and be grateful for what you have.