Owning a car is vital in many parts of the U.S. In rural areas, public transportation is vastly non-existent. But needing a car to get around doesn’t mean you need a BMW, Mercedes-Benz, or Jaguar. A car is really only worth it’s transportation value. Once you can measure your car’s worth based on that factor alone, you can learn to be content with your car.
If You Own a Car, You’re Rich
Nearly everyone old enough to drive in the U.S. owns a car, so it might not seem like you’re rich just because you have a vehicle in your driveway. But car ownership worldwide is not so prevalent. There were an estimated 806 million passenger vehicles worldwide in 2007, which means about 16% of people old enough to drive own a car.
So if you own a car, even a really ugly one, you’re richer than 84% of the people in the world. Many people will never even dream of owning a car because it’s so far outside their realm of possibility.
Does Your Car Meet Your Needs?
The key to being content with anything in your life is to ask yourself if it meets your needs. If your house meets your needs, then it’s big enough. If your food keeps you nourished and full, then you have enough food. If your car gets you where you need to go, then it’s good enough for you.
Almost everyone in the U.S. has their needs met. Even the 37 million or so people the government classifies as poor are much better off than the rest of the world. Except for the very, very poorest of the poor Americans, they all have food, clothing, shelter, warmth, and medical care – not to mention the luxuries of a car, television, air conditioning, cell phones, computers, and other things that might not be completely necessary for life.
If your car doesn’t meet your needs, then your dissatisfaction is not discontentment. But it’s hardly ever true for Americans that we have something that doesn’t really meet our needs. Our discontentment usually stems from a deeper problem.
Why Aren’t You Happy with Your Car?
Is it because someone else has a nicer car than you? Or because there’s a better car available? Does that really matter? If your car meets your needs, then it doesn’t matter if someone else thinks it looks nice. And buying anything in an effort to impress other people is a losing proposition. Not only are you wasting your money in an attempt to buy flattery, but you’re also basing your self worth on the opinions of others.
Materialism – finding our value in our Stuff – is the real reason most Americans aren’t happy with what they have. We feel like more Stuff or better Stuff will make us more fulfilled and happy. But your life does not consist in the abundance or quality of your possessions. Life is much more than Stuff, and you’ll never find true happiness in Things. How many people really believe they are happy because they have a fancy car? Seriously, if there’s anyone out there who believes that, please let me know. Then tell me what will happen if you lose that car or it gets totaled when you accidentally wreck it.
Realize that a nicer car won’t make you any happier. A car that meets your needs is all you really need. Anything beyond that is just extra.
Base Your Happiness on the Only Thing That Really Matters
There is only one foundation for true happiness that will last through life and death. Nothing you can do in this life can secure happiness for you or help you find contentment in anything. It’s only through the power of Christ that you can overcome the temptations and deceit of riches in this world. Christ has overcome the World and Satan, and through Him you can overcome them, too!
For the person who is content in Christ, any car will do if it meets their needs. There’s never a concern about comparing your possessions to anyone else’s because you know they don’t really matter. Nothing in this life matters compared to knowing Jesus. Through Him, you can have the power to be content in any situation – whether hungry or full, homeless or sheltered, or driving an old beater or a brand-new sports car. The power of Christ – the knowledge that you have conquered life and death through Him – overwhelms the good or bad of any situation you’ll ever face in this life.
It’s really only through Jesus that you can find true contentment in this life. Sure, you might be able to learn to find happiness beyond Stuff, but your happiness can only last until you die or until some situation comes along that pushes you beyond the limits of your strength. Somewhere along the line you’ll encounter trials that you cannot overcome. You’ll deal with situations that break your emotions and tear your happiness away. And it’s in those situations that a Christian can still find overwhelming joy and happiness because they’ve built their foundation on Jesus.