Summary: A sermon on contentment (outline and material adapted from Allen Webster of Jacksonville Church of Christ)
Several years ago there was a study done about the American Dream. The story said that for Americans with household incomes of under $25,000, polls showed these people believed it would take $54,000 to fulfill the American dream in their lives. The same survey also showed that for those who make $100,000, they’d like to make about $192,000 for their version of the American Dream. In other words, the American Dream usually lies nearly twice the distance away, at least financially. Charles Spurgeon said, "You say, ‘If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled."
Standing knee deep in a river but dying of thirst is a country song by Kathy Mattea. It is a song of person thinking back over all the friends with whom she had lost touch, sweethearts who went separate ways, and other lonely people she passed each day, who could be friends if she just reached out to them. Chorus: They roll by just like water And I guess we never learn Go through life parched and empty Standing knee deep in a river and dying of thirst
Most Americans are “standing parched, knee deep in a river” of blessings, and they seem to be dying of discontent. English word content means “desiring no more than what one has.” The Greek word for content means “to be satisfied.” Thus one who is content is satisfied with what he has and has no desire for more. How many people do we know like that?
Thesis: What are the springs from which the river of contentment flows?
Spring 1: Contentment comes through the fear of God
“The fear of the LORD leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.” Proverbs 19:23, NIV.
Multi millionaire William Randolph Hearts invested a fortune in collecting art treasures from around the world. One day Hearts read a description of a valuable art item and then sent his agent abroad to find it. After months of searching, the agent reported that he had finally found the treasure. To the surprise of Hearst, the priceless masterpiece was stored in none other than his own warehouse! This wealthy man had been searching all over the world for a treasure he already possessed. Had he read the catalog of his own treasures, he would have saved himself a lot of time and money.
We can be like that. We look for contentment in the world, though we’ll never find it there. Yet Christ has already give it to us. The fear of God leads us to seek out God’s way, which in turn helps us find contentment.
Respecting God’s power and his anger, which we call “fear of the Lord,” actually helps us to have a better life. It help us be less afraid of normally frightening things because we know that He is more powerful than the scariest thing we can think of.
Spring 2: Contentment comes through strong desire for righteousness
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:6, NIV.
Athletes are said to be hungry when they have a strong competitive spirit. A businessman is said to be hungry when he is willing to work extra hard and do whatever it takes to be successful. Some are hungry for prestige, riches, honor, fame, or political office.
These are not the things for which we should hunger. “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:2, NIV.
God wants us to be hungry for righteousness. “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” Hebrews 5:12-14, NIV.
God makes a promise to “fill us” if we hunger after righteousness. The word means to be “satisfied with food” and originally described the feeding of animals with hay. What is a better picture of contentment that a cow having eaten to the full and then standing in the shade chewing the cud?
Spring 3: Contentment comes through trust in God’s presence
God promises to give that which truly satisfies. ““Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labour on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.” Isaiah 55:1-3, NIV. Here God is promising satisfaction through the blessings promised through the coming Messiah.