New Year, New You?
Café Menu for Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Today’s Special is: Being Content in the New Year
Carefully prepared just for you by your friend, Annah Matthews
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
Genesis 3:5-6 NIV
The New Year always brings promise of re-creating the new you. The commercials are targeted at dieting, sculpting, buying, or re-making a better version of you. It seems to imply that you should be discontent with the current God-created image of yourself and that the world has a better version to offer if you would just buy in.
This is not to say that we should not try to make improvements or exercise or eat a little healthier, but the way that marketers target our total need to be dissatisfied with ourselves or what we don’t have is pretty disturbing and leaves a girl to wonder if true contentment can ever be found. It reminds me of another story I recently read, in Genesis 2. Yep, all the way back to the beginning.
Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there He put the man He had formed. The LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil… The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will certainly die.”
Genesis 2:8-9, 15-17 NIV
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’”
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Genesis 3:1-7 NIV
There is a reason it’s called the original sin. Not only because it’s the first time humankind sinned against God but also because it’s pretty much the same sin that every single one of us has encountered. It’s the sin of discontentment. Simply not being content with what we have already been given.
When I recently read these verses it really struck me that God gave them every type of tree and every type of plant that were not only good for food but also pleasing to the eyes and yet they were not content. Every type of food, everything they needed, and only one tree was off limits across acres and acres of this perfectly God-designed garden. How could they not be satisfied?
The answer lies in the original lie from that old serpent, satan. He turned Eve’s attention away from all the good things God had given them in the garden and had her focus on the one thing that she couldn’t have. Instead of turning her attention back towards what God had given her, she focused on what she didn’t have. She allowed the conversation with the evil one to continue until he convinced her that she really wasn’t going to be fully satisfied until she had what she wanted.
Did she need to eat from the Tree of Life because she was hungry or because her needs weren’t being met by what God had given her?
Of course not; she chose to eat because she was convinced God was withholding something good from her and she was not going to be satisfied until she at least tasted a little of it. What is even more amazing is that she then went and convinced her husband to do the same thing. Misery does love company. She fell for the lie, her husband fell for it, and now they had serious problems.
God never intended for Adam and Eve to know good from evil. He was actually doing everything to prevent them from bearing the weight of right from wrong, fleshly desires, selfishness, or a guilty conscience. He wanted only good for them, but He also had to allow them to make a choice. We have the same choice each day when we choose what we will turn our attention and focus towards.
God has given me the word CONTENTMENT for 2014. Each day I can chose to look at all the good and perfect gifts God has given to me and thank Him for all the blessings in my life. On the other hand, I can also choose to listen to the voice of my enemy and focus on all the things I don’t have until I find myself totally dissatisfied; even bitter at God because satan has convinced me that He is withholding something good from me. I will reap the benefits of focusing on His blessings and the consequences of focusing on what I don’t have. I have learned a few things along the way and continue to learn. These are some of the warning signs that are so important for me to be aware of when I feel myself slipping towards the forbidden fruit of discontentment.
- The more I compare myself to others or focus on what they have, the more discontent I feel.
- The more time I spend looking away from God and towards the world, the more discontent I feel.
- The more I focus on counting the blessings He has given me and listening to His voice, the more satisfied I feel and the quieter the voice of the enemy is.
- The circumstances around me do not have the ability to determine my level of contentment.
Meditate on the words of Paul:
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:11-13 NIV
Understand that this secret of learning contentment is a daily process in which I choose to focus on Him and not on what I do or don’t have. Some days are better than others and I will still fall for that original sin. But just like He did in the garden, He covers my sin and shame with His love and it compels me to ask for forgiveness as I keep moving forward.
I pray that you too can find contentment in the things God has given you and realize the enemy’s lies when he starts hurling them your way. God hasn’t withheld any good thing from you. Matter of fact, He gave you the most precious thing to Him, His Only Son which includes the promise and gift of eternal life.
Don’t allow satan to spin that same lie and make you question God. The next time you feel the need to compare or shift your eyes away from what God has given you, just start asking Him to help you count your blessings. I promise you, before that prayer is even out of your mouth the gifts that He has given you will begin to flood your mind and on these things you can meditate and give Him praise.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the most precious gift of Your Son, Jesus. Remind me that You don’t withhold good things from me and that You always have my best interest in mind. Help me to resist the temptation to look away from all the good things You have given me and to not fall into the sin of discontentment. I pray that You will remind me to count my blessings daily and to remember Your love for me. Thank You God that I do have a choice each day and allow me to choose to listen to Your voice above all else.
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© 2013 by Annah Matthews. All rights reserved.