It’s Not the About Mansion 

“I’m satisfied with just a cottage below, a little silver and a little gold…”

As we sung this song in the church I felt the uneasiness beginning to creep over me. I hadn’t really thought about the lyrics so much.

“I don’t have a cottage,” I thought to myself, “How can I  be satisfied without even having a cottage?”

I looked around at all the people around me. This song did not fit me and it certainly did not fit those around me. A lot of them had very nice  houses and a lot of money. Here they were singing that they were satisfied with their little cottages and often “like the prophet, [their] pillow a stone!” 

I doubt any of these people had slept with their head on a stone once in their lives.

Up until my move to Singapore, being discontent and worrying about what others had was never really a problem for me. I had never really been one to covet others’ nice cars, wads of cash, or fancy houses. I owned an old, run down car, shopped for my clothes second-hand, and lived in a house that was so old that it had a toilet outside.

And I was satisfied. I was satisfied with my cottage, little silver and little gold.

But then I came to Singapore… and everything changed. I went from a happily middle class standard of living to lower class. My whole social standing changed, and I was not happy with it. I had no cottage, gold, or silver to be satisfied with.

Here are some of the realities I was faced with after my move:

  • Cars in Singapore cost over US$100,000 for a period 10 years, so we couldn’t even think about having one. Ever. I have to take public transport wherever I go, which I have always despised.
  • Houses are so expensive we couldn’t even think of owning one. Ever.
  • Renting a house is also expensive, and almost everyone lives in pigeon-hole apartments, including us. This means no backyard, tiny kitchens, and no spare rooms.
  • Groceries are expensive, or at least the ones that  I had become accustomed to consuming. Don’t even think about consuming copious amounts of baby spinach ($60 a kilo/2.2 pounds) or Silk almond milk ($15 a litre).
  • 1 in 6 Singaporeans is a millionaire, and can afford everything that I can’t have.

I found myself beginning to look at the people around me and wishing that I had what they had. If only I had a car. If only we could afford a house. If only I could live somewhere where I could have all the things I am used to having. If only  I could afford to eat the way I want to. All the things I had always felt were just a part of life became untouchable items of luxury.

It became even harder when I visited the US and I heard people there complain about their small houses, old cars and difficult way of living. When I would tell them about our life in Singapore they would say, “Oh, I don’t know how you do it, I could never  live like that!”

I became discontent, and here was every one I knew and this song telling me that there was no way (or at least that it was extremely difficult) for me to be satisfied with my way of life. Woe was me.

So, what is there to do when I don’t have a cottage, silver, or gold, and therefore can never be satisfied?

Okay, so I know there is such a thing as poetic license, and I know what the song is trying to say–you can interpret it how you will and sing it to your heart’s content!–but my personal belief is that it falls short.

I want you to reflect with me upon the words of this song and really examine yourself:

  • Am I really satisfied with what I have?
  • What if my cottage, silver and gold were taken away? Would I still be satisfied?
  • What if I don’t even have a simple dwelling place or some gold and silver to call my own to begin with?

In contrast to this satisfaction that is sung about, I hear many complaining about how their houses are cramped and don’t have enough rooms, their salary and how it isn’t enough, or their gizmos and gadgets that are outdated; when in fact we have a lot more than the majority of the world could even dream of having.

What is wrong with our attitudes? Could it be that we have bought into this “Mansions over the Hilltop” mentality?

Contentment can be a difficult thing to gain (especially in this world that tells you constantly that you can’t be satisfied–just look at the advertising channel!), but having it makes our Christian life so much easier. God talks so much about contentment in His word that it just cannot be ignored. Paul particularly spoke out loudly regarding contentment, and on one occasion wrote to the young man Timothy:

“But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content” (1 Timothy 6:6-8, ESV).

Content? With just food and clothing? How is this even possible? I need a nice home, nice food and nice clothing and everything else that every one else has, right? How can I be content with what I have, even when it is so much less than every one else around me?
Paul learnt how to be content whether he had a lot or everything was taken away from him.

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13, ESV).

How am I learning to be content no matter what my situation?

  1. I try not to think about what others have that I don’t. What others have means nothing to me. I cannot control it, I have no say over how it is used, and it does no good for me to wish I had it. Covetousness has always been a problem and has always been condemned by the Lord (Exodus 20:17; Luke 12:15). Covetousness is a form of idolatry, and gets in the way of our service and worship towards God (Colossians 3:5).
  2. I don’t think about what I could have were I in another situation. It does me little good to dwell upon what I could have were I living in the US or Australia. I could own a nice house,  have a nice car and shop organically (oh my, the thought thrills me!), but we are needed here. To think about what I could have only leads to misery and self-pity. So what do I do? I don’t look at kitchen makeovers on Pinterest or look at property magazines. I try to make the best of what I do have, and do things a new way – rather than looking at how my friends in America and Australia do things. Maybe one day I can look without growing discontent; but for now, this has helped tremendously.
  3.  I concentrate on the things I do have. A blessings journal is something that has been very beneficial to me when I have been going through a rough time. The idea is simple: every night I wrote down 5 unexpected blessings from the day. They can be anything, small or great. This not only helps me to see what I have, but also helps me to look for the little positive things in every day, and really obey the command to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4).
  4. I give thanks for the things I do have. Recognizing that all good gifts come from God (James 1:17) and that they nothing is really mine anyway (1 Timothy 6:7), goes a long way to helping you to breed contentment in your life. Give the glory to the One who gave you what you have, and realize that He is in control of all things.
  5. I pray that I can use what I do have to bring glory to God. I have control only over what I have, and no matter how little that is, I can use it to give glory to God and benefit others. No matter who I am or what I have, I have an obligation to use what I have to benefit others (Matthew 25:33-40). We are  rich, and the rich are told to give (1 Timothy 6:17, 18).
  6. I think about those that don’t have even what I have. We went to Vietnam recently, and as I looked around at the situation there I said to my husband, “Don’t ever let me complain about my situation in life again.” There are so many people who would love to have what you have. Are you saying that those  people can’t be content? Obviously not. If they can be content with what they have,  then you certainly can be.
  7. I try to keep myself busy. When you are busy doing good you don’t have time to think about how “bad” things are! It’s that simple. 🙂

– – – – – –

Needless to say, I don’t care much for the words of the song “Mansions Over the Hilltop” anymore. My husband even calls this “the greedy song,” as it goes on to say:

“…but in that city, where the ransomed will shine,
I want a gold one, that’s silver lined!”

To me at least, it sounds very much to me like I’m saying, “Hey God!  If you give me a little here I will be satisfied, but when I’m done here I want a gold one that is silver lined, you hear me!?”

Do I really have the right to demand a fancy mansion? And will this be what I really want when I get to see the Lord and Creator of this Universe.

In Revelation I see a completely different picture:

Day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” giv[ing] glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created”  (Revelation 4:10, 11).

I doubt very much that I will be demanding  mansion, or even thinking of one. I will be casting down my crown, throwing myself at Jesus’ feet, and praising Him for giving me all things good.

Is a golden, silver-lined mansion even something that I am looking forward to? No, not really. Freedom from pain and trouble? Yes. Freedom from the endless battle over sin? Yes. Seeing my Lord and Saviour face-to-face? Oh yes. But a golden, silver-lined mansion? I’ve never really gone for things that gaudy myself.

Besides, I’m not even sure this is something I can look forward to. Oh, I’m sure it will be beautiful there. Beautiful beyond imagination and comprehension. I’m not going to demand a mansion though, I am going to look forward to a room in the Father’s house. The original Greek text from the verse in question (John 14:1-3) does not read “mansions” but rather “rooms.” Sharing a house with my heavenly Father forever? That’s certainly something I can look forward to.

All I know is that it is going to be wonderful, and it is not because of any cottage, silver, gold, or prospective mansions that I can be content in any situation; but because of His wonderful promises, infinite power, and boundless grace.

– – – – –

Though people and “Mansions Over the Hilltop” may say that I can never be satisfied in Singapore because I have no cottage – that’s okay. I’m satisfied with that.

Are you satisfied with what you have?

Would you be satisfied with less?

Are you looking for a mansion — or is your focus to give all the glory to the One who gave you all things?

Connect with me! I love meeting new people. 🙂

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{Linked to Make a Difference Mondays; Jack of All Trades Link Up; Counting My Blessings Link Up}

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11 thoughts on “It’s Not the About Mansion 

  1. Paul is an extremely good example for any of us wondering what contentment in all things looks like. I think my parents did a really good job of raising us in a manner that left us content with whatever we had. I know what you mean about Singapore–it seems excessively expensive to me whenever I have visited–but with out move here, I only occasionally recall as if in another lifetime we owned two cars and lived in a house 3 times the size of our now apartment and had a 3 acre lawn to mow. Now I don’t even have a blender or toaster, let alone “luxuries”. And yet I can tell that we’re strangely suited for our new lifestyle–we often rejoice about how we no longer have to deal with car maintenance and gas station and finding parking spots, and how we don’t have to spend time doing yard work anymore. I can definitely see God at work in this funny little situation we’re in–striving to be content in all things is a worthwhile goal, which will definitely make us more like Christ!

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    1. I know, I absolutely love that God used Paul to pen half the New Testament. Praise God for His infinite wisdom! I love Paul’s writings! 🙂
      Wow, Rachel! You have a great attitude towards what you have. Isn’t it amazing how you can learn to do without the things that are “necessities?” I know I’ve had to learn to live differently, and when I hear what people “can’t live without,” it sometimes makes me chuckle a little. I know I can probably STILL be a bit like that sometimes (I mean, I love my food processor!), but learning to do without things that are “normal” is certainly a great exercise.
      Thank you for your comments! xx

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  2. Having just flown back, I can relate to that materialistic feeling walking in the shopping malls in Singapore. I am really encouraged how God has blessed the brethren in Singapore with the strength to live godly lives a midst it all. Thanks for sharing your strategies to be content. Was good to see you again last Wednesday! See you again soon.

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  3. OH Chantelle, such wisdom and right perspective here! May your heart be filled for pouring out God’s love and truth! Loved it all, but this part was my very favorite: “I have control only over what I have, and no matter how little that is, I can use it to give glory to God and benefit others. No matter who I am or what I have, I have an obligation to use what I have to benefit others (Matthew 25:33-40). We are rich, and the rich are told to give (1 Timothy 6:17, 18).”

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    1. Thank you for your kind words Sybil. That is a part that I struggle with! My husband is very thoughtful, but I always forget to be thoughtful. I have to do nice things as soon as I think about them or I forget. I am so glad I have my husband to teach and remind me! 🙂

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  4. what a great post! {remind me not to move to Singapore anytime soon lol ;)} contentment is something that I have struggled w ith a lot, and this past year I just had a “crash course” in it… ;P I had never thought about that song before either. It makes you really think, about how much I complain about things that really, are blessings and wants, however much we may think they are needs.
    thank-you Chantelle 🙂

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    1. Thank you Emma! I think contentment is something that we all struggle with from time to time. You are doing well to be aware of yourself and actively think of your attitude and how you can improve it. That’s when change happens! You can do this! Hope all is well for you. xx

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  5. It is amazing what a little perspective, like a move overseas can do. I lived in Germany for 3 years and when I returned to the US I was overwhelmed by the amount of shampoo options available at every store. Our abundance is crazy and unless we are intentional about broadening our perspective, we get stuck in our culture’s drive for bigger and better. We adopted from Uganda and we we returned to our 1,300 sq. foot house with now 6 people in it, I complained. My husband reminded me of the houses ours sons would have lived in and reminded me to be thankful. Thanks for such a great post about finding contentment in Christ first. That is so very important.

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  6. How did you get so wise Chantelle? 🙂 Once again your post is on target and it always make me think and challenge myself. I love keeping track of my blessings. It is the thing that gets me through when the days are hard and my heart is hurting. I also agree with your thinking about heaven. Just to be in His presence . . . awesome! Thanks so much for linking up at CMB. Many blessings and hugs!

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    1. Thank you for your kind words Deb! I’m so glad that this post was able to help you in some way. It is something I have been thinking about for a while, but then again–so are most of the topics I write about. I wear my heart on my blog. 🙂
      I don’t know how wise I am, but I KNOW for a fact that any wisdom I have comes from God, without a doubt. I pray for it, and continue to glean what I can from His Word. I fall more in love with it every day. I love what the Psalmist said, “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation” (Psalm 119:97-99).
      Blessings to you too! Have a beautiful day. xx

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