Summary: Contentment is found on the inside through faith in Christ not from outward possessions or circumstances.

The Secret of Contentment

Philippians 4:12

Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister

First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO

Introduction: You can’t buy contentment. But you would if you could!

Every parent or grandparent knows that when the final history of the world’s wars is written, the greatest battle of all time won’t have been fought at Gettysburg, Valley Forge, or Normandy. History’s greatest conflict is the Battle of the Golden Arches. We have all made our stand and lost. It starts when we make the mistake of asking our little ones where they would like to eat. No matter the choices, their answer is always the same—McDonald’s! McDonald’s may not be our choice, but it is almost always theirs. You didn’t really have to ask. What looks like Golden Arches is really a super secret, high-tech “kid-magnet.” Every child under ten feels the tug.

You also know what they want once you get to the counter. You only have to ask what kind of “happy meal” to order. It’s always a “happy meal.” Somewhere along the line some marketing genius figured out a way to convince our little ones and through them their parents and grandparents that the little bag contains more than McNuggets, fries, and a dinosaur stamp. You’re not buying a kid’s meal. You’re buying a happy meal!

You know that once they get their hands on the little plastic thingamajig, they won’t touch their meal. Try as you might to convince the kids to skip the cheap little trinket, nothing works. Even if you promise to give them a quarter to buy their own little toy from the bubble gum machine by the door after they eat, they still want “a happy meal.” Of course, you give in. What self-respecting adult wants a restaurant full of people craning their necks to look at the tight-fisted, penny-pinching cheapskate who made the little kid cry by denying him a “happy meal?”

Of course, you can’t buy happiness in a hamburger sack. The only one that stays happy is McDonald’s. That’s why Ronald McDonald has that great big grin painted across his face. Twenty billion Happy Meals, that’s why! The toy breaks. Whatever joy that came with the happy meal disappears as soon as you get back in the van. At least half the food tossed in the garbage as you leave.

Writer John Ortberg identifies the real issue, “When we get older, most of us don’t get any smarter; our happy meals just get more expensive.” (Adapted from John Ortberg, Dangers, Toils & Snares: Resisting the Hidden Temptations of Ministry (Multnomah, 1994), pp.99-100).

We can’t buy contentment. But that doesn’t keep us from trying. In Our Daily Bread devotional booklet, Philip Parham tells the story of a wealthy business man who, while on a weekend getaway, struck up a conversation with a local commercial fisherman. The guy was just lounging under a tree near his boat. "Why aren’t you out there fishing?" the businessman asked. "Because I’ve caught enough fish for today," said the fisherman. "Why don’t you catch more fish?" the richer man asked. "What would I do with them?"

The businessman can’t believe what he has heard. So he offers unsolicited lecture on “business management 101.” "You could earn more money," the businessman insisted, "and buy a better boat so you could go deeper and catch more fish. You could purchase nylon nets, catch even more fish, and make more money. Soon you’d have a fleet of boats and be rich like me." The fisherman shot him a skeptical look and then asked, "Then what would I do?" "You could sit down and enjoy life," said Mr. Moneybags. "And what do you think I’m doing now?" the fisherman replied. (Scott Minnich, Toms River, New Jersey. Leadership, Vol. 16, no. 3.)

You can’t buy contentment. It isn’t for sale—at any price. And as our text suggests, for a lot of folk, contentment is a secret. You can’t buy it. But you can learn its secret—for free! Anybody here interested in learning the big secret? It’s all right here in the surrounding verses.

Look at the verses that surround our text. “. . . I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I 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. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

Contentment isn’t circumstantial. It has nothing to do with position and everything to do with perspective. It is internal not external. It really has little to do with finances. It is all about faith. If you are not contented where you are, you’ll never be contented where you’re not!

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