In the 7th chapter of 1st Corinthians, Paul has moved from discussing the disorder of the church to answering the list of questions that the Corinthians had sent him. These questions ranged from being single to marriage, eating meat offered to idols, standards for proper behavior in worship, orderliness in the Lord’s Supper, spiritual gifts, and the resurrection. From this chapter through the 24th verse of the 16th chapter Paul is answering these questions. Ironically these are some of the same questions and issues that plaque God’s church today.
This morning I would like for us to view just a few of these verses together rather than reading the whole chapter. Let’s look at verses 7-8; 17; 19-20; 24; 29-31; 35. I believe these verses have one precious theme... do you see it?
How many of you read the paper and its comic section? Do you remember Calvin and Hobbes?
ILL Notebook: Contentment: (C & H—if tigers weren’t content)
Calvin and his pet tiger, Hobbes, are walking in the woods, when Calvin says, “I wonder why people are never content with what they have.
Hobbes responds with, “Are you kidding? Your fingernails are a joke, you’ve got no fangs, you can’t see at night, your pink hides are ridiculous, your reflexes are nothing, and you don’t even have tails! Of course people aren’t content!
Calvin answers, “Forget I said anything.”
To which Hobbes responds, “Now if tigers weren’t content, that would be something to wonder about.”
Do you struggle with contentment?
I think that it is interesting that as human beings, the more that we have, the less content we are.
Have you ever noticed that?
I have found that true in my life.
So…it makes me ask…what is the secret to contentment?
WE CAN ONLY TRULY BE CONTENT IN THE LOVE OF GOD.
No matter what our circumstances, we can be content.
No matter what our station in life, whether married or single, widow or widower, loss of a partner through divorce or death, we can be content. When we are content in the love of God, Paul says that we will have a zeal for God in the right way; that is in an undivided devotion.
Paul says that our outer circumstances do not change that each of us has a gift from God. When we use our gifts do to our contentment in the love of God, we will find God’s blessings through and through.
Let me give you an example I think will help you see what I’m saying.
There is an old Chinese tale about a woman whose only son died. In her grief, she went to the holy man and said, "What prayers, what magical incantations do you have to bring my son back to life?" Instead of sending her away or reasoning with her, he said to her: "Fetch me a mustard seed from a home that has never known sorrow. We will use it to drive the sorrow out of your life." The woman set off at once in search of that magical mustard seed. She came first to a splendid mansion, knocked at the door, and said: "I am looking for a home that has never known sorrow. Is this such a place? It is very important to me." They told her, "You’ve certainly come to the wrong place" and began to describe all the tragedies that had recently befallen them. The woman then said to herself, "Who is better able to help these poor unfortunate people than I, who have had misfortune of my own?" She stayed to comfort them, and then went on in her search for a home that had never known sorrow. But wherever she turned, in hovels and in palaces, she found one tale after another of sadness and misfortune. Ultimately, she be-came so involved in ministering to other people’s needs and grief that she forgot about her quest for the magical mustard seed, never realizing that it had in fact driven the sorrow out of her life.
There is hope, especially as we become focused on something other than ourselves. Self-pity is the greatest tool used by the devil to destroy our contentment in Christ; especially, when we are confronted by difficult and overwhelming situations. But we can and will find God’s blessing if we search for it.
None of us are immune and we all have been confronted with the temptation to look at what others have and say we would be happy if our lives were like theirs were.
There are plenty of examples of this in our member’s lives, but I will use my own family…
For instance, my wife wanted children and for some reason she is unable to have any.
My step-father has Alzheimer’s disease and can’t even remember that the rest room is where you are to go when you need wash yourself and perform bodily functions.
How about the fact that my nephew blew his brains all over a bathroom wall, or all the sadness from the children that are suffering from cancer, and the ones born with physical and mental disabilities, or the elderly at the nursing home who are laying in their beds screaming for just someone…
Each of these situations is not only difficult, but at times overwhelming.
But contentment is not far away, because God’s blessings are not in the realm of the impossible.
Paul says in verse 23 that, “we were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.”
Brothers and sisters we have had a tremendous change occur when we become a new creature in Christ. D.L. Moody wrote some major points in the flyleaf of his Bible about this life-altering transaction. He said that…
1. Justification: a change of standing before God
2. Regeneration: a change of nature from God
3. Repentance: a change of mind about God
4. Conversion: a change of life for God
5. Adoption: a change of family in God
6. Sanctification: a change of service to God
7. Glorification: a change of place with God
No matter what is happening or has happened in our life, we are not what we used to be and that is an enemy of God’s.
Charles Spurgeon was quoted saying, “Is God enough for your need, or is His all-sufficiency too narrow for you? Is His heart faint? Is His arm weary? If so, seek another God!”
We are here this morning to remind each other that, No matter what our situation or station in life is, it is never out of reach for God.
Friends, the Lord wants us to remain content in our situation. Why? God has a greater purpose for each of our lives and He wants us to know the joy that He has for us.
For (listen to this), no one is incomplete that is filled with Christ.
This means that… Our deepest, most intimate needs are only met in a relationship with Christ
(Philippians 4:11-13). Note again what Paul says…
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”
You see, our calling is to learn to live a fulfilled life no matter what state we are in.
Paul was perfectly content in Christ.
He saw everything as an opportunity instead of an obstacle.
How many times do we look at hardship/tragedy with grief, depression…Instead of looking at it as an opportunity to know/share the love/grace of Christ?
Church, there are no accidents with God. Amen?
Then don’t pray for rain if you’re going to complain about the mud” (Zingers).Paul prayed for opportunities and God answered his prayer.
I want to ask you, what trials in your life have you seen God work out for good?
The reason I ask you this is to remind you that changing our station in life doesn’t accomplish happiness or fulfillment.
God not only desired that Paul remain in his condition, but abound in it.
He was to fulfill every blessing in it.
We are to abound and exult in our condition.
And when God is ready to change it, He will.
Remember, Paul writes Philippians from a Roman jail awaiting sentencing.
He doesn’t know whether he is going to live or die, and yet, he is genuinely content.
We falsely think that contentment comes from people we know, positions we hold, and places we visit.
But the truth is, contentment is found in the reality of the moment and not the uncertainty of the future.
Contentment is found in spite of our circumstances, not because of our circumstances.
Contentment is found, brothers and sisters, in Christ’s strength, not our own.
I’ve said it once and I’ll repeat it again, WE CAN ONLY TRULY BE CONTENT IN THE LOVE OF GOD.
Our God is a loving, redemptive God.
When we allow Him, God moves into all our human sorrows with healing and sustaining grace.
He lovingly gives Himself to us intimately and personally, meeting us with sufficiency for all our needs, enabling us to live richly, creatively, and joyfully—now and forever.
ILL Notebook: Contentment (better higher up)
The famous preacher D.L. Moody told about a Christian woman who was always bright, cheerful, and optimistic, even though she was confined to her room because of illness. She lived in an attic apartment on the fifth floor of an old, rundown building. A friend decided to visit her one day and brought along another woman -- a person of great wealth. Since there was no elevator, the two ladies began the long climb upward. When they reached the second floor, the well-to-do woman commented, "What a dark and filthy place!" Her friend replied, "Its better higher up." When they arrived at the third landing, the remark was made, "Things look even worse here." Again the reply, "It’s better higher up." The two women finally reached the attic level, where they found the bedridden saint of God. A smile on her face radiated the joy that filled her heart. Although the room was clean and flowers were on the window sill, the wealthy visitor could not get over the stark surroundings in which this woman lived. She blurted out, "It must be very difficult for you to be here like this!" Without a moment’s hesitation the shut-in responded, "Its better higher up." She was not looking at temporal things. With the eye of faith fixed on the eternal, she had found the secret of true satisfaction and contentment.
May each of us find such contentment today, no matter what our circumstances!
NIV Life Application Study Bible
Contentment as Testament, Paul Decker
Sacrifice of Love, Dixon Olu. David
A Greater Purpose, Darrin Hunt