Summary: This sermon looks at contentment, what causes discontentment and how we can live in contented no matter what happens in life.
Living in Contentment
What I’ve sadly come to realize is that contentment is an elusive commodity in our society, and promoted by the advertisements we’re bombarded with. They seem to think it’s their job to make us feel discontent and dissatisfied with our lives unless we buy their products.
If I want to stay in shape, going out for a walk outdoors and getting some fresh air isn’t good enough. What I need is a NordicTrack treadmill in my living room looking out the window at the great outdoors.
And no ordinary run of the mill car will do. If I want to be green I need a Prius, or if I want to be stylish it’s a Jaguar or Mercedes. And if I want to be a real man I have to have the largest pick up truck on the market with Firestone tires.
What to wear is always a contentment problem. My Hawaiian shirts and casual slacks are so far out of style they’re only found in history books. It’s now all about skinny jeans that we used to call “high water,” which was another way to say we couldn’t afford a new pair. Or if I have new jeans that look new, it means I didn’t pay an extra $100 for someone to put holes in them.
According to these advertisers I’ve come to realize that what I have is not enough, and the only thing that will make me happy is a set of Ginsu Knives, LG appliances, a farmhouse sink, Kohler faucets, Lazy Boy furniture, America Standard toilets, Charmin toilet paper, Bounty paper towels, and eat Angus beef with fresh vegetables, or a Big Mac with “Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions – on a sesame seed bun.”
Since I only have a couple of these items, or their generic counterparts, I’m just downright depressed, not to mention I probably need some special counseling, or more money to buy what I am so obviously lacking.
Let me just say that being dissatisfied has become an American epidemic. It is such dissatisfaction that has led to what ails our society. People are looking for satisfaction or contentment in all the wrong places, and it is this feeding frenzy for more and better that has fueled the advertising world that has turned Americans into the most discontented people in the world.
We have to stop trying to find satisfaction and contentment in all this material stuff, even in our relationships, and start finding our contentment in God alone.
Consider Jesus’ fourth Beatitude. The Beatitudes are sayings Jesus gave in His Sermon on the Mount that outlines those attitudes we need to possess if we want to be His followers.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” (Matthew 5:6 NKJV)
Jesus is saying if we want to be content, then contentment comes through earnestly seeking God and having a right relationship with Him.
The writer of Hebrews says that we must stop trying to get more, but rather learn to be content with what we have because God is always with us.
“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5 NIV)
The Apostle Paul brings this to the forefront in today’s signature verse where he talks about true contentment that only comes through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13 NKJV)
Paul wrote these words while in prison waiting for his death sentence to be pronounced and executed. And yet in such dire circumstance he was the most joyful and content guy on the planet.
Consider all that Paul went through in his life: he was whipped and beaten several times, stoned and left for dead, he suffered shipwrecks, threatened with death by both the Jews and Romans, and was suffering through an incurable disease. And yet was able to content through it all.
Look at Paul’s own words.
“We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NKJV)
And he goes on to say that while his body was wasting away, he wasn’t upset because Jesus was being manifested and glorified.
Jesus, along with His sufficient grace and strength, was enough for Paul and was the reason for his joy and contentment.