Summary: It all comes down to two questions - where is your focus? And where is your trust?
Philippians 4:10-14 THE SECRET OF BEING CONTENT IN ANY AND EVERY SITUATION
One day, a financial planner was preparing to meet with a new client, and as he reviewed this client’s paperwork, he became very concerned. The client came in, and the financial planner said, “Well, I’ve been reviewing your paperwork, and I have to tell you, if I were you, I’d be worried.”
“Why do you say that?” the client said.
“Well, on the one hand, you don’t have any debt, so that’s good. On the other hand, you don’t have any savings. You don’t own any stocks or bonds. You have no equity, because you move around all the time. You don’t really seem to have a regular source of income. According to your social security statement, you won’t be receiving much when you retire. You don’t have an IRA or 401k. You are getting older. Doesn’t any of this concern you?” the financial planner said.
“Actually, no,” the client said. “I feel fine. I’m pretty content,”
The financial planner was very surprised at how calm his client was about his finances. “You hardly have a dime to your name, and yet, you don’t seem to be worried at all.”
Of course, this client was the Apostle Paul, who says in our text for today, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.”
Do you know that secret? The Apostle Paul, by our standards, wasn’t a very well-off man. He was unprepared for retirement – didn’t own a whole lot. And yet, he was content, more relaxed and more at ease about his financial situation than most people in our society today. What was his secret?
Today, and next Sunday, we’re going to talk about contentment. We’re going to do this as we consider the subject of stewardship. Stewardship, remember, is how we use the things that God has given to us. God has given to each one of us a certain amount of time, a certain amount of talents, and a certain amount of treasures. Stewardship really focuses on this question – how are you using the things that God has given to you? It is true that God wants you to use your time and talents to earn a living, to take care of your home and your family, to enjoy some of the things he has placed on this earth. But are you also using a portion of your time and talents to glorify God, and serve your fellow man?
It’s the same thing when it comes to your treasures, your finances. God has given to you a certain amount of money, and it is true that God wants us to use that money to take care of your home, your family. God wants us to use some of your money to enjoy some of the things he has placed around you. But are you also using a portion of your money to glorify God, and serve your fellow man? That’s stewardship.
But before we even talk about that, though, we need to first talk about contentment. You see, contentment is the key to stewardship. If you are content with the things God has given to you, then you will use many of those things to glorify God and serve your fellow man, and that’s good stewardship. If you are discontent, you won’t do that. You’ll use your time and talents and treasures primarily to serve yourself, and that’s bad stewardship. Contentment is the key.
What are you right now? Content, or discontent? Who do you want to be? What is the secret of being content in any and every situation? It all comes down to two things – where is your focus, and where is your trust. If your trust and focus are in the right place, you will be content, and you will be a good steward of the things God has given to you.
Where do most people look today, as they seek to be content in their lives? Most people are looking for contentment in all the wrong places. Their focus is primarily on money. And their trust is primarily in themselves.
You often see that when there’s a big lottery pay out, and the newscasters are standing in front of the gas stations interviewing people who are buying lottery tickets. You can see it in people’s eyes – “If only I could win the lottery, then I would finally be content. Then all my troubles would go away, and finally, I would be happy.” And yet, there are a great many stories of wealthy people who are discontent with life.
Here’s an interesting quote from People Magazine, 1978 – who is this: “I sit in my house in Buffalo and sometimes I get so lonely it’s unbelievable. Life has been so good to me. I’ve got a great wife, good kids, my own health – and I’m lonely and bored… I often wondered why so many rich people commit suicide. Money sure isn’t a cure-all.” Do you know who said that? It was OJ Simpson, when things were going well for him, long before his problems that took place 10 years ago.