Summary: This sermon looks at contentment, what causes discontentment and how we can live in contented no matter what happens in life. (Updated)
Sadly, I’ve come to realize that contentment is an elusive commodity in today’s society, which is mainly seen in the advertisements we’re bombarded with. They seem to think that it’s their job to make us feel discontented and dissatisfied with our lives unless we buy their products.
If I want to stay in shape, going outside for a walk or bike ride and getting some fresh air isn’t good enough. What I need is a treadmill and stationary bike 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 environmentally friendly, I need a Prius or some sort of Hybrid car, and 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. Skinny jeans I think are still in style. These types of jeans are what we used to call “high water pants” 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 what I’ve come to realize is that what I have isn't good 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 then make and eat chef inspired meal kits.
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, that 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’s fourth Beatitude. The Beatitudes are sayings Jesus gave in His Sermon on the Mount that outlines those attitudes we need to possess as followers of Jesus Christ.
“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 after God and having a right relationship with Him.
The writer of Hebrews says that we have to stop trying to get more, instead we need to learn to be content with what we have, and that’s 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 our 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 a dire circumstance he was the most joyful and contented person on the planet.
Consider all that Paul went through in his life: he was whipped and beaten within an inch of his life several times, he was 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 be content through it all.
Look at what he wrote in his second letter to the church in Corinth, a letter that was also written while he was in prison.
“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)