Summary: 6th and final of a 6 part summer series from the Book of Philippians on how we are free in Christ
FREE TO BE CONTENT
Freedom! Series - Week 6
INTRODUCTION:(Drama: Puzzle Pieces - from Willow Creek)
Do you know any Cam’s? Folks that look like they’ve got it all together... money, great house, expensive car... They’ve achieved pretty much everything they have set out in life to do, yet it’s not enough. They are discontent, unfulfilled, wanting something else and yet don’t know what that is. Do you know any Jake’s? Someone who maybe lives paycheck to paycheck, has suffered loss, doesn’t have a lot and yet displays unmistakable peace and contentment?
According to statistics there are a lot of “Cams” in our culture. A recent USA Today survey revealed that 53% of the American people felt like their life was dull and boring. According to “Action America” we are #1 in both highest per capita income and in the number of people who are discontent with life and pessimistic about the future. There are apparently not a lot of Jakes like in our drama.
But I know of one. His name is Paul and he is the author of the book we’ve been studying this summer. He says in vs:11 of our text: "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation..." The incredible thing about that is that Paul’s circumstances were lousy. He was in prison, he was broke, his health was deteriorating, many of his friends had deserted him and yet he says, "I’m content." How could he say that? What’s his secret? Well, let’s begin by defining contentment from Paul. His perspective would say that: Contentment is: maintaining your spiritual balance independent of circumstances. In other words, contentment is not dependent on the situation around you. It is not dependent on what you have or encounter in this life. Isn’t that what Paul says? "..content in any and every situation."
That makes the most important question: How do we get his kind of contentment? How do we enjoy a truly satisfied life? Or as Jake asked in the drama: “How do you see life? What’s worth doing? What lasts?” Let’s look at three principles from this passage that will help us see what it takes to have contentment in any and every situation, to have that internal peace in the midst of external chaos.
I. CONTENTMENT IS AN ACQUIRED TRAIT: vs:11
First, Paul would say, "Please note that contentment is an acquired trait.” Paul says in vs:11: "I have learned to be content.." You see contentment does not come naturally or quickly. Contentment is not something you get in a one time experience. I hear people say, "If I could just win the lottery, then I’d be happy." "If I could just find a mate, then I’d be content." "If I could just do this or that.. then I’d be content." And I think those kinds of attitudes come from misconceptions about happiness. They are much like the misconceptions Cam had in our drama. Here are three phrases that represent myths that people have bought into making them think contentment can come quickly:
1) "I must have what others have to be happy." Ever heard your kids say, "But Dad/Mom, everybody has one." This thinking is the myth behind all fads and fashion crazes. Even as adults we can get caught up thinking, if we just had what they had, we’d be happy.
2) "I must be liked by everyone to be happy." This is the myth behind popularity. It says that contentment will come immediately upon everyone being pleased with me. But that is impossible. Bill Cosby was once asked the key to success and he said, “I don’t know the key to success but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” If Jesus couldn’t please everyone, do you think you can do something Jesus can’t? If you are looking for everyone’s approval to make you happy, you are doomed to discontentment.
3) If I have more, I’ll be more happy." That’s the old myth of behind possessions. John D. Rockefeller was once asked, "How much more would it take to make you happy?" To which he replied, "Just a little more." Ecc. 5:10-11 says it well. “The foolishness of thinking that wealth brings happiness! 11The more you have, the more you spend, right up to the limits of your income.?”(LB) Anybody experienced that? The more you make, the more you spend? If more produced contentment than the richest people would be the most content and that’s not the case.
Happiness is a choice! And get this.. God expects you to be a contented person! That’s right. Let me share with you, a couple of passages of Scripture that make it clear that it is not only good to be content but that God expects it. Now God does not expect us to always be on Cloud 9 or to continually experience euphoria, but He expects the general spirit of our life to be one of peace and contentment.