Summary: Explains how to find contentment. Expanded outline.
FINDING CONTENTMENT IN A DISCONTENTED WORLD
The other day I was listening to the radio, and I heard one say that in our country there is a palatable discontent; a palatable discontent. In our country, people are unhappy. There is a spirit of discontentedness.
Let’s think about that for a moment. In this country, we are living at a time of nearly full-employment. Although interest rates have headed back up some recently, we are still enjoying some of the lowest interest rates our country has seen in decades. When I bought my house in 1990, I was paying over 10% interest, and I remember being excited when a few years later I was able to refinance at 7¼%. Today, most people are paying less than 7%.
Think of those described as poor in our country. According to the 2000 census, 46% of all poor households own their own homes. 76% of poor households have air conditioning, while 30 years ago, only 36% of the entire US population enjoyed air conditioning.
In 1973, the average new house had 1660 square feet. Today the average new home being built is 2,434 square feet. The average poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens and other cities throughout Europe. (Note: These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries not to those classified as poor.) I remember hearing at the Jerusalem Model at the Holy Land that in Israel’s early days, the average home in Jerusalem had only 300-600 square feet.
Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car; 30% own two or more cars. Ninety-seven percent of poor households have a color television. Over half own two or more color televisions. Seventy-eight percent have a VCR or DVD player. Sixty-two percent have cable or satellite TV reception. Seventy-three percent own microwave ovens; more than half have a stereo, and a third have an automatic dishwasher. As a group the poor are far from being chronically undernourished. Most poor children today are in fact super-nourished, on average growing up to be one inch taller and ten pounds heavier than the GIs who stormed the beaches of Normandy in World War II. (Poverty, American Style, by FairOpinion, Oct. 13,2003).
These are those described by our government as being “poor” and yet the poor in this country are better off than the majority of people in the rest of the world. In spite of living in one of the most blessed nations in the world, at a time of economic growth and prosperity, there is a spirit of discontentedness in our land. Even in our churches, there is discontent. How right was the poet who said:
As a rule, man’s a fool. When it’s hot, he wants it cool.
And when it’s cool, he wants it hot, Always wanting what is not. (Don Jaques, The Secret of Contentment)
This morning I would like us to look together at what the Bible says about being content. This morning we will work together to find contentment in a discontented world.
> Philippians 4:11 I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
I have learned to be content. Think of who it is who wrote this. This isn’t some young buck, stepping into a new career with a 7 figure income. This isn’t a man who has worked all his life to accumulate wealth, and is now sitting back enjoying the fruit and luxury of his labors. This is a 60-plus-year-old Jew chained to a Roman guard. He is under house arrest, not knowing if tomorrow he will be killed, brought to court, or set free. Though he is without the comforts of home and the privileges of privacy, he is happy. Though he doesn’t have a clue about his future, he is content.
In verse 11, Paul says, “I have learned to be content.” I have learned to be content.
I. CONTENTMENT IS LEARNED
First my friend, I want you to know that contentment must be learned. It doesn’t come naturally. It is learned.
Contentment is not something that comes naturally. Paul said that he had to "learn to be content". Naturally, we are prone to,
· compare ourselves with others
· to always want more than we have (remember Adam and Eve?)
· to interpret someone else’s good fortune as coming at our expense
· to complain
You don’t have to teach any of these things. they come naturally to us. (Rev. Bruce Goettsche)
If that isn’t enough, the world provides many tools to help us be discontent. Contentment robbers include mail-order catalogs, shopping malls, TV, magazines, and the internet. The other day I was looking up contentment on the internet and an ad came up that read, “Looking for contentment? Find exactly what you want today. eBay.com.”