Summary: Contentment is an expression of communion with Christ and a reliance on His power and provision to prevail in all life situations.
Let’s begin this morning with a quick question. Raise your hand if you have had coffee from Starbuck’s in the past 2 weeks. Me too. Well I want to tell you that I am mad at Starbuck’s. I have drank coffee for years and been content with Maxwell House or Folgers. I was content to brew a cup coffee in the morning, dump some sugar and creamer in it and sit back and enjoy. I even looked forward to the smell of the coffee when I woke up in the mornings. Then I re-discovered Starbuck’s.
When we moved to Springfield (Northern VA)I discovered a Starbuck’s coffee shop between the church and my home. Since that time I am sad to say that terms like “Grande” and “Venti” and “Caramel Macchiato Latte” have become a normal part of my vocabulary. In fact, I planning a new website called MarkQuitsStarbucks.com that will chronicle my attempt to break my addiction to Starbuck’s.
You see, I was content with Folgers until I discovered Starbuck’s. Starbuck’s taught me to be discontent so that they could re-define contentment for me as a $3.50 latte or a $1.40 cup of American Blend coffee. Living in a state of contentment can be quite a challenge for Christ-followers in our day. Consider these statistics.
1. According to TIME Magazine, approximately 1.4 billion credit card offers are mailed every 3 months in America. That means that the average household receives about 6 offers every month. (TIME-Oct 18, 2004). The result? A seduction to a life style described in articles like “Teens Are Buying Now, Paying Later” in a recent issue of Plugged In (October 2004).
2. America has 4.5% of the world’s population but purchases 45% of the global toy production. A recent U.S. News & World Report article stated that “26% of kids 2 and under have a TV in their room and the average American child sees some 40,000 commercials a year. That in turn helps explain why the United Sates, with 4.5% of the world’s population, buys 45% of the global toy production…Somewhere along the way we decided that one American Girl doll or one Thomas the Tank Engine was simply not enough. But in this land of plenty, many of us are overwhelmed by our kid’s possessions.” (September 12, 2004, Kid Power).
Marketing to children has become so lucrative that marketing specialist have created new terminology and strategies to get children and parents to pony up for more stuff. For instance: (see US News article)
• Nag Factor; Shut-Up Toys; Transtoying
3. Another U.S. News & World Report article of several years ago stated that the average American needs 50%-100% more money than they currently have in order to fulfill their American dream.
4. Now just in case you are not fully convinced that we American’s have a problem with contentment let me you one more example...toilets. According to CNN/Money, it seems that a Japanese toilet maker is introducing a $5,000 toilet to the US market. This is no Green Acres outhouse men and women. This baby features a wireless remote to raise and lower the seat so you don’t have to actually touch it. It has a deodorizer, a warm-air dryer and options for setting water temperature and…you ready for this…a massaging option.
Surely this is not the lifestyle God wanted for His children. Surely He wanted us to be more than a sailboat driven by the winds of greed on an ocean of materialism. So what if we could really find contentment in life? Would we choose it?
Well several hundred years ago our wise God penned some words through His servant Paul to speak to our need. This morning I want us to begin a journey of learning how to be content. And along the way, I want us to learn how to slay three enemies of contentment: Self-Sufficiency; Attachment to Things; and Isolation. As long as these enemies live among us contentment will remain an illusion to us. I also want us to discover that contentment is not something we acquire but Someone we experience. And finally, I want us to identify a couple ways we can determine how content we truly are. Let me summarize it this way: Contentment is an expression of communion with Christ and a reliance on His power and His provision to prevail in all life situations.
Let’s read the passage together. Read Philippians 4:10-19.
Paul concludes this book by saying Thank You to the Philippians for their generous financial gift to him. The Philippians had supported Paul’s kingdom efforts in the past but for some reason had not been able to support him in recent days. Yet they dug deep when they learned of Paul’s need and moved to support him. Paul is now responding to their generous gift and intermingled with his gratitude is some wonderful teaching about contentment. Source of contentment.