Summary: The second sermon of a 4 part series, ‘Overload: Saying ‘No’ So We Can Say ‘Yes.’
This morning, take your bulletin or another piece of paper, and a pen or pencil and take a couple of moments to respond to these four questions.
What is contentment?
Are you a content person?
What would make you content?
What is your source of contentment?
Now, as we watch this clip of interviews about contentment, compare your answers with those interviewed. (Slide 2) sermonspice.com video clip ‘sv_contentment’
How much alike are your answers with those interviewed? How different are your answers with those interviewed?
These four questions form the outline of today’s remarks because I think that how we answer them determines the effect that overload has on us. This effect is due to the pressure that discontentment brings to our hearts and souls and creates the conditions by which overload is an attempt to deal with overload.
This is the second sermon of our fall series, ‘Overload: Saying ‘No’ So We Can Say ‘Yes.’
Contentment is very much a key and implied aspect of our main text for this morning, the parable of the sower that Jesus tells and we read in Matthew 13 beginning at verse 1 through verse 9 and then verses 18 through 23:
Later that same day, Jesus left the house and went down to the shore, 2 where an immense crowd soon gathered. He got into a boat, where he sat and taught as the people listened on the shore. 3He told many stories such as this one:
“A farmer went out to plant some seed. 4As he scattered it across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. 5Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The plants sprang up quickly, 6but they soon wilted beneath the hot sun and died because the roots had no nourishment in the shallow soil. 7Other seeds fell among thorns that shot up and choked out the tender blades. 8 But some seeds fell on fertile soil and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted. 9 Anyone who is willing to hear should listen and understand!”
Now on to verse 18: “Now here is the explanation of the story I told about the farmer sowing grain: 19The seed that fell on the hard path represents those who hear the Good News about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches the seed away from their hearts. 20The rocky soil represents those who hear the message and receive it with joy. 21But like young plants in such soil, their roots don’t go very deep. At first they get along fine, but they wilt as soon as they have problems or are persecuted because they believe the word. 22 The thorny ground represents those who hear and accept the Good News, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares of this life and the lure of wealth, so no crop is produced. 23 The good soil represents the hearts of those who truly accept God’s message and produce a huge harvest—thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted.”
Now, not only is the issue of contentment in this well-known parable but also the need for margin, implied in the receptivity of the good soil, illustrated here. In fact, there is a link between contentment and good soil because the good soil, the hearts ‘of those who truly accept God’s message’ is receptive to that message because those who choose to become content make contentment in God’s provisions and care a priority.
Let’s take some time to examine the questions in light of this text.
(Slide 3) What is contentment to you?
I heard from those interviewed on the video clip the following definitions of contentment: ‘satisfied,’ ‘inner peace,’ ‘happy with who you are,’ ‘alright,’ and ‘being okay with what is going on.’
Now looking at our main text, the opposite of all of this is described in the lives of those who are like hard ground, the rocky soil, and the thorny ground. The worries and the cares and the frustrations are there, in part, because there is a discontentedness within them that keeps them from learning to be content with what God has for them. The discontentedness crowds out the margin necessary for growth.
What does contentment look like? I think for many of us it is a deep satisfaction with ourselves and our situation. But, what happens when our situations and our circumstances change? Are we still contented?
For many of us at this moment in history, there is a great deal of discontentment. We see and hear and feel it politically. We have experienced it financially.
Our hearts grow hard, rocky, and thorny because discontentment with our social status, our financial state, and our own personal needs and wants grow beyond what they need to be. So the cares about having the right things and having enough to have the right things causes us all sorts discomfort. So we fill our homes and our hearts with stuff. The result? Overload.