Summary: This is the final in a series of sermons based on Paul’s letter to Timothy as a guide to how the church should behave. This message explores living in contentment with our material condition.
(Opened message with showing of U2 “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” Music Video)
Even though that song is now pushing 20 years old, it may more than any other song continue to describe our culture today. A culture littered with people who are searching, running, scaling, looking for something but not finding it. And unfortunately many people think they’re going to find it in the accumulation of things.
A typical grocery store in the United States in 1976 stocked 9,000 items; today that same market carries 30,000 different items. More choices, for people that want more things. The average American adult receives 32 credit card offers per year, regardless of their credit history, and the average American has four major credit cards with an average total credit card debt of $9,000.00. More spending, for people that want more things.
If you have a balance of $3,900 of credit and you pay the 3% minimum it will take you nearly 42 years to pay off the debt, and those monthly payments would total $14,530.44. But we still haven’t found what we’re looking for.
What do you think that the favorite pastime of female teenagers is? In a recent survey, 93% of female teenagers said that shopping was their favorite pastime. Dating was a distant second. One Father said, “If my girls don’t go to the Mall for 3 days, the mall sends them a get well card.” And they still haven’t found what they’re looking for.
The average American is exposed to 3,000 advertisements a day that promise happiness.
So we look for the get rich quick scheme. Gambling for instance. People gambling in this country lose more than $50 billion annually in legal wagering, a figure that has increased every year for over three decades. Today, all but two states have some form of legalized gambling from lotteries to river boats. Surveys show that about 20% of those that declare bankruptcy do so primarily because of debt incurred through gambling.
Running, scaling, looking, but we still haven’t found what we are looking for. The most toured home in America is the White House. Does anyone know where the second most toured home in America is?
The second most toured home in America is in Memphis, Tennessee. It’s the 23 room home of the King of Rock and Roll - Elvis Presley. (thank you, thank you very much).
Graceland is toured by hundreds of people every day. 15 million dollars a year is brought in by those visiting and looking at the cars, clothes, airplanes, records. And few people in his time made as much money as quickly as he did. Elvis seemed to have it all: money, airplanes, cars, mansions. But most of us know how that story ended.
In fact, if you go fifty yards from the back door of Graceland you find a tombstone. August 16, 1977, just 42 years old. An overdose of pills. Depression. The story goes that he was so drugged in the last days of his life that he passed out while he was eating dinner alone and he nearly drown when his face fell in his bowl of soup.
He had as much as anybody in his time, and he said at one point, "I would give a million dollars for one day of peace." It appears that he never did find what he was looking for.
There was a similar man of similar wealth thousands of years earlier. We read about him in I Kings, chapter 21. His name is Ahab. He is a King. He has a huge palace, power, control, every material thing he could want. Well. . .almost every material thing he could want. You see, he doesn’t have this little garden plot owned by the King’s neighbor Naboth. Look at this story. I Kings 21 (read through verse 4).
What a big baby. He can’t have this little piece of land for a vegetable garden, so he is going to starve himself, and pout on his bed. Verse 5 (read through verse 16).
Ahab’s greed leads to the death of an innocent man, and we don’t have time for the rest of the story today, but if you follow the remainder of I Kings you will find that gaining this new piece of land did little to bring any peace or contentment to Ahab’s life. He still didn’t find what he was looking for.
Jesus was teaching in the book of Luke, and he declared, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (12:15, ESV) If you look to money, material things to satisfy your life... you still won’t find what you are looking for.
So Paul encouraged the young pastor Timothy to teach and live true, Godly contentment. Turn with me to I Timothy 6. Verse 6 (read through verse 9).