Summary: An old Chinese Proverb says this…. If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap; if you want happiness for a day—go fishing, if you want happiness for a year, go inherit a fortune; but if you want happiness for a lifetime-go help someone.
“The Secret to Contentment”
Philippians 4: 8-13
An old Chinese Proverb says this…. If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap; if you want happiness for a day—go fishing, if you want happiness for a year, go inherit a fortune; but if you want happiness for a lifetime-go help someone.
Whatever we call it---joy, gladness, being blessed, happiness or contentment, it is something all of us want. In many ways it is a journey and for many people they are on that journey for their entire life and never seem to find it. We look at other people and we think …they sure look happy…why do they seem to get all the breaks in life? What are they doing that I am not doing? And sometimes if we really get to a low place we start thinking everybody’s happy, everyone else is content except poor old me. ?
There was a man in the scripture named Saul and Saul was on a journey much like we are. We look for fulfillment; for happiness but we don’t always look in the right places. Saul was a man who seemed to have it all, a Pharisee who was very intelligent, knew the law inside out, studied the Hebrew scripture under one of the finest teachers in his day, born to Jewish parents who had Roman citizenship. Saul had great power. He was feared and respected by many people. For Saul, he seemed to find his identity through prestige and power and wealth. But like many people he realized he was following a path that would only lead to destruction.
Let me start with a question to help us think this morning. Why is it that we pray for happiness but then we look for it in the wrong place? Think about these 3 places we look.
(1) One of the more obvious places we turn to is money/things. For some reason we have been made to believe by every ad we see on TV or on billboards that money will buy happiness. Because if we have money we can buy products that will make us happier. Coca-Cola’s new theme is “when you open a coke you are opening a bottle of happiness. I like Coke. I collect Coke products but believe me when you open a bottle of Coke you are opening bottle of sugar water. Those who work in marketing secretly work to create an image that if you use their product you will somehow be happier. Coca-Cola says open the bottle. You will open happiness. Volkswagen says Get in-Get happy. Drive a certain car. Use a certain product. Use a certain deodorant and your life will certainly improve. The Bible puts all of this into perspective and we are told that if we put Christ first then all of these other things will fall into place. The answer will not be found in owning things.
Last year America spent $70 billion on lottery tickets. More than we spent on sports tickets, books, video games, movies and music-combined. People love the lottery. And the reason is simple. We believe it’s a chance to find real happiness. But it’s just the opposite actually. According to Time magazine here’s how winning the lottery can actually make you miserable. These are actual testimonies.
• One man went broke four years later after winning $315 million. He lost a daughter and a granddaughter to drug overdoses. He was robbed of over a half million dollars while sitting in his car. He said I don’t like what I’ve become. I wish I had torn the ticket up instead.
• Another man one $30 million. A woman befriended him, shot him twice and buried him under a concrete slab in her backyard. His brother said he had heard him repeatedly say I would’ve been better off broke.
• A woman in St. Louis one $224 million. She wrote a book titled how winning the lottery changed my life. She said there are people who you love deeply and they turn into vampires to try to suck the life out of you.
Too much money can create some terrible circumstances for many people. One thing is for sure; money will not buy happiness. Nor can buy things that will make you happy. And here is why. Happiness is temporary. It comes and it goes. We get a new car-we’re happy-then the payment book arrives in the mail. It’s thick. 50 or more payments. Big payments. Suddenly the happiness is gone. Because happiness is based on the moment. It’s a feeling. And it goes away all too quickly.
The apostle Paul knew there was something different. Something better. It’s called contentment. Here’s the difference.
Happiness is based on circumstances. As long as everything is going well, we’re happy. Things at home. Things that work. Things at church. But the problem is that rarely do all of those things go perfectly. In fact they never do. So we immediately we lose our happiness.