Summary: Because of the sinless life, atoning sacrifice, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ we, through him, have eternal life in His presence. This is the good news! This calls for unending thankfulness.
How Much is Enough?
Text Philippians 4:10-20
Grace mercy and peace from God the father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
A rich industrialist from the north was horrified to find a southern fisherman lying lazily beside his boat smoking a pipe. “Why aren’t you out fishing?” asked the industrialist.
“Because I have caught enough fish for the day,” said the fisherman. “Why don’t you catch more than you need?” asked the industrialist. “What would I do with them?” asked the fisherman. “You could earn more money.” was the reply. “With what you sell your extra fish for you could get a better motor and boat; you could go into deeper waters and catch more fish. You could buy nylon nets. You could catch more fish and make more money. Soon you could have two boats, then a fleet of boats, employees, and a real business. Then you would be rich like me. The fisherman asked, “then what would I do?” The industrialist said, “Then you could sit down and enjoy life.” The fisherman said, “What do you think I’m doing now?”
( Illustration taken from Recovery Devotional Bible NIV page 1313 )
Most of us lie somewhere between these two extremes. We should however ask:
How much is enough?
Saint Paul has the answer -- it is not how much we have -- it is how content we are with our daily bread --- that is -- God‘s provision. Paul has been in need and he has had plenty but his secret is to be content in every situation. For Paul, and for us, union with the living Christ is the secret of being content. He urges us in to be thankful in all situations. He tells us to make a list and thank God for all that he has done for us. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the spirit. (1 Thess. 5:16-19)
Our dissatisfaction and lack of gratitude is the handy work of a society and an economic system that only works if we over use, over indulge, and over buy. Satan, the prince of this world, found our buttons. He tweaks and activates our natural greed by telling us we deserve better and more things. He enlists the skills of the advertising industry to convince us that we are depriving ourselves of luxuries that we can easily do without. Now, instead of being thankful, we feel deprived. Our minds are permeated with thoughts of how the rich and famous live. We elevate poor role models in the sports and entertainment industries to the status of demigods. We sense that life has not been fair for us. We develop an unrealistic sense of entitlement that will never allow us peace.
While Paul shuns --hedonism ---- the continuous pursuit of pleasure -- he nowhere advocates that austerity -- the pursuit of severe plainness -- is a virtue. What he says is that if austerity is your station in life be thankful for what you have and not resentful over what you don’t have. Thankfulness is the virtue. Acceptance of situations is the virtue. If your station in life delivers you a yacht, enjoy it and be thankful. On the other hand, if you have a canoe, enjoy it and be thankful.
Like other gifts of the spirit we can not force the issue. This, too, is a gift of faith as Paul’s words in Colossians 2:6-7 state: “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” We know that he wants us to foster this gift. We can certainly pray for a thankful heart. And the great truth is that if we start acting as if we have it ---- we will. We can reflect on all he has done for us and allow this attitude of thankfulness to flow freely into our behavior by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Samaritan Leper, in this evenings gospel, had far more than just good manners. By the power of the Holy Spirit, as a response to the Gospel, not the law of Moses, he fell on his face at the feet of Jesus the true Priest and the reason for his gratitude.
We have the most valuable thing in the world. Its not represented by what we wear on our backs or by what we park in our garages. Nor is it represented by the address and size of our houses.
Because of the sinless life, atoning sacrifice, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ we, through him, have eternal life in His presence. This is the good news! This calls for us to fall on our faces at Jesus’ feet in unending thankfulness.
We will never find this thankfulness or contentment in the idols that the world creates for us.