Summary: we live in a society which craves more yet we are called to be content, how can we be content when we feel we need more.
Living A Life of Contentment
John Ortberg’s book "When the Game is Over It All Goes Back in the Box" was a special help and thought sparker.
There is a disease that many people have here. The men who have this disease can walk into their garage and look at their car which is less than two years old and think to themselves that they need to trade the car in for a new one. A woman with this disease can walk into a closet full of clothes and think to herself, “I have nothing to wear”. A person with this disease can look into a mirror and never like what they see and wonder how they ended up with their father’s nose and their mother’s thighs. They should be careful not to visit their friends’ new home because you may see that they have granite countertops and you don’t and you may want them. People with this disease may look at their spouse and think to themselves, “I really could have done better.” This disease is probably the cause of many divorces. It is the cause of much of the financial debt that people are in. People with this disease carry around numerous maxed out credit cards. People with this disease think that no matter how much money they are making they deserve and need to be making more. If any of these symptoms fits you then you may have this disease…the disease of discontentment. The disease of discontentment is an epidemic in our culture. We catch this disease early on in our lives.
When Hannah was a baby we tried to teach her some sign language to help her communicate with us so she wouldn’t get frustrated as easily when we couldn’t determine what she wanted. We taught her all sorts of signs. We taught her how to say, “thank you”, “mommy”, “daddy”, “sleep” and a few more. She learned some of those, but there was not any sign that she picked up on quicker and easier than she did the sign for the word “more”. When she wanted more food she would sign more. When her cup was empty she would sign more.
Catalogs have thrived on the disease of discontentment. There are millions of catalogs sent out regularly. When people look at those catalogs something happens to them, people suddenly feel that they need this thing in this catalog that has caught their attention that they didn’t even know existed two minutes ago.
We do not like to say it this way, but discontentment is the same as greed. The bottom line is that this disease of discontentment will rob you of your joy. If so much of your life is spent on craving more, being discontent, you will miss out on so much of the good. Perhaps today you are convinced that if you had a little more then you would be content. Let me assure you that if that is your way of thinking, then it is wrong. There will always be something else you want or feel that you need. One day the thing you thought you wanted so badly that would make you content will be old news and out dated, and there will be something else you want. The illusion of gratitude is that we will experience it more if we get more stuff. People often desire more, thinking more will satisfy. The reality is more will not satisfy you. The surest way to dull a child of the attitude of gratitude is to give theme everything they want. More is not always the best answer.
Marilyn Monroe was one of the biggest stars there has ever been. She was envied by women and desired by men. She had looks, money, and fame, but Marilyn Monroe died all alone by her own hand. If she had had one more movie or magazine cover, or one more relationship would it have been enough to satisfy her emptiness?
Isn’t it ironic that the season that represents a thankfulness to God for what he has done, is the official ushering in of the season of greed and discontentment, of desiring more. I want us to understand that the disease of discontentment is one that will make us miserable.
Text: Philippians 4:10-13
I. Resist Comparisons
As Paul wrote the book of Philippians he was imprisoned. Life probably wasn’t the best at that point in time, yet the book of Philippians is known as the “epistle of joy”. I am sure it was quite a temptation for Paul to sit there is jail and make comparisons. Perhaps as he looked at his other preacher friends who were free still to go about and preach? Perhaps he looked at his guards and envied their freedom. However, Paul did not get bogged down with comparisons; rather he made clear that he was content with where he was in life. I really believe that is saying something.