Summary: An effort to help people become wiser to the pitfalls of materialism and to accept contentment as a proactive way to live within God’s design
Open with skit - (complete skit is pasted below)
You have to relate to some of the drive of Dorothy, scarecrow, the tin woodsman, and the lion. 4 characters, drawn together by what they have in common: they’re lacking something. In Frank Baum’s classic story, they’re all seeking to improve something about themselves, and Dorothy is seeking to get back home. Their great hope is that the Wizard will help them. The drive to get what they’re after keeps them going – past the forest of mean trees, through the field of poisonous poppies, past the flying monkeys and guards, and even past the difficult gatekeeper of Emerald City.
I wonder if their story isn’t somewhat a description of the way many people are approaching their lives – not satisfied, hopeful, and driven to get something better. Maybe there’s a sense of discontent there. On the other hand, I read a letter, written from prison, by a guy who sounds like he’s pretty OK with where he is in life:
I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 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.
I can do everything through Him Who gives me strength.
Everything, including, being content no matter what my surrounding circumstances are.
I’d love to be able to say that and mean it this morning. Imagine what power there is in being able to say that! I’d love to be able to say I’m content when it looks like we won’t be able to afford a vacation this year, or the car just broke down, or the Dave Ramsey envelope is empty and we can’t go out to eat because of it. I’d love to be able to say that when it looks like I’m about to get hit with a huge medical bill, or a utilities rate increase, or some unexpected emergency. 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.
Contentment. The concept is simple – it’s being satisfied with what you have. Contentment is the essence of the 23rd Psalm: I shall not want.
Paul said, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” Would you like to?
We can learn the secret, because the Scriptures help us to discover it.
How can we achieve contentment? By knowing:
I. This world is temporary (vv6-7)
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.
Ill - I was there for the birth of my last son. That was quite an experience. To the best of my recollection, he didn’t bring anything with him. He wasn’t born with an Xbox. My daughter wasn’t born with a cell phone. And if they were to leave this world, they wouldn’t be able to take those things with them. There’s a funeral home in Louisville that provides suits for the dead. It looks good, like a regular suit, only there’s a feature missing – no pockets. Funeral home suits don’t have pockets. Why would you need them?
Paul connects the ability to be content with the fact that material things aren’t a part of who we are. This world isn’t what our lives are all about, and when we remember that, the absence or presence of stuff in this world doesn’t push us around nearly as much. This world is temporary. One day, everything you see here is going to be burned up. I love it! The month before Christmas our dryer broke down. It’s all gonna burn. Yesterday, the wipers on our van messed up. It’s all gonna burn.
No matter how nice your car is, or if it’s an old beater, it’s going to wear out someday. No matter how big or small your house is, no matter how old it is, one day it’s going to be gone. No matter how nice your clothes are or aren’t, they’re going to wear out.
Quote - Joni Eareckson Tada – “We ask less of this life because we know full well that more is coming in the next.”
We’ll be more satisfied with what we have when we remember that no matter what we do or don’t have, it’s temporary.