Summary: We live in a materialistic world. How do we find contentment in a world designed to breed discontent?
We live in a materialistic society. Everywhere you turn there are people telling you what you need or what you can buy to make you “happy”. It may be a new form of exercise (with three easy payments), a way to cook food that will be more beneficial to your health (more easy payments), a new vehicle (no money down), a pill that will change your life (certain side effects may apply), a new job (with better pay or hours) or a new program of some kind (it will transform your life).
We are so inundated with the material that many of us suffer from the W-A-N-T disease. Our lives are filled with frustration because anytime we are able to secure one thing, it seems that we need another. It is an endless treadmill.
Chuck Swindoll says most people suffer from the “If Only” disease
If only I had more money
If only I could make better grades
If only I owned a nicer home
If only we hadn’t made that bad investment
If only I hadn’t come from such a bad background
If only she would have stay married to me
If only our Pastor were a stronger preacher
If only my child were able to walk
If only we could have children
If only we didn’t have children
If only the business could have succeeded
If only my husband hadn’t died so young
If only I would’ve said “No” to drugs
If only they had given me a break
If only I hadn’t had that accident
If only we could get back on our feet
If only he would ask me out
If only my folks hadn’t divorced
If only I had more friends.
There are two ways of looking at the world: as our way to happiness; or as a blessing from God. The way we choose to view the world will determine what we do and how we feel about life. One way leads to greed and frustration, the other leads to gratitude and contentment.
Let me read you a great quote from Bill Hybels,
It is our generation, after all, that has been named the Me Generation. It was the eighties that saw greed elevated to the status of a bug-eyed idol. Fewer and fewer decisions were made on the basis of values, morals, and a sense of justice. Instead, answers came wrapped around appetites. Does this fulfill my needs? Does it satisfy my sexual hunger? Quench my thirst for more? Feed my lust for power? The key adjective was “my.” Our role model switched from Mother Teresa to Madonna. The message was clear: indulge, satiate, pursue pleasures without restraint. Self-interest was not only tolerated, but actively promoted and encouraged. Entire industries, such as advertising and glamour modeling, sprouted in the fertile soil of such unblushing self-centeredness. We have been taught the lesson over and over again: More for me is better for me. The world be damned.
And it has been The Me First mindset has led our society to the verge of internal collapse. Escapism, perversion, AIDS, unwanted pregnancies, violence, political scandal, and family breakups are all symptoms of our modern-day madness, our obsession with Me.
This is what we are going to talk about today. How do we combat the greed of our world and find the contentment that God commends? Soren Kierkegaard, a famous theologian once said,
The trouble with life is that we understand it backward,
But we have to live it forwards.
What that means is that we don’t really understand what is important until we look back on life. As we lay on our deathbed we have a much clearer picture of what was truly important in life. You don’t hear people say: “I wish I had worked more” or “I wish I had spent (or even made) more money”. Instead people say: “I wish I had taken more time with my family”; “I wish I had taken time for a deeper relationship with the Lord” or “I wish I had spent more time helping my children grow in faith”. We need God’s help to see life clearly before it has past us by.
The Causes of Discontentment
Listen to what Proverbs tells us about the reasons we lack contentment.
11:6, 26 6 The godliness of good people rescues them;
the ambition of treacherous people traps them.
People curse those who hoard their grain,
but they bless the one who sells in time of need.
27:20 Just as Death and Destruction are never satisfied,
so human desire is never satisfied.
30:15-16 15 The leech has two suckers that cry out, “More, more!”
There are three things that are never satisfied—
no, four that never say, “Enough!”:
16 the grave,
the barren womb,
the thirsty desert,
the blazing fire.