Summary: A sermon based on Richard Foster’s Book Celebration of Discipline pages 93 to 95. Nothing new here (except # 9) but a source of illustrations
6 Steps for Simplicity
Sermon for 3/13/2005
Hakunamatata in Lion King.
A. Read Scripture for the morning: Philippians 4:11-13
B. Now, when I say that we should be content, I do not mean that we should be content with many of the things in this world. We should not be content with sin. We should not be content with those who are outside of Christ. If there are unfair practices at work or elsewhere, we should not be content with that, but we should work toward better conditions. We should not be satisfied with human tragedy and evil. We should not be content with these things. The kind of contentment I am talking about is contentment in our own personal lives. Paul was contented and thankful in whatever circumstances of life that he was in.
C. Every person lives in one of two tents: content or discontent.
D. Paul could have been discontented with his material status. Paul at this time was a charity case. Completely dependent upon others. Early in Paul’s life, he probably had plenty of money. During his missionary journey’s, he was dependent upon people. He did make tents. Now, he has nothing.
E. Paul could have been discontented with his situation. In prison in a house in Rome.
F. Paul could have been discontented with the persecution. This was not fair.
G. Most people are discontented with their jobs, they are discontented with their families, they are discontented with their situation in life, but their situation is far better than the one we see that Paul was in yet Paul was content.
H. Many people believe that if they just had more money, then they would be content. If they could just get more of the material things of life, then they will be happy. There are scores of studies showing that material wealth does not create happiness. In three studies with 140 adolescents, Richard Ryan and colleague Time Kasser showed that those with aspirations for wealth and fame were more depressed and had lower self-esteem than other adolescents whose aspirations centered on self-acceptance, family and friends, and community feeling. Ryan says, “The wealth seekers also had a higher incidence of headaches, stomach aches, and runny noses.” Findings like these and others do not prove that rich people are unhappy. But they do point out that seeking material goals can remove us from vital connections with people, nature, and community- and that alone can make us unhappy.
I. Donella Meadows in her book Beyond the Limits says: People don’t need enormous cars, they need respect. They don’t need closets full of clothes, they need to feel attractive and they need excitement and variety and beauty. People don’t need electronic equipment; they need something worthwhile to do with their lives. People need identity, community, challenge, acknowledgement, love, and joy. To try to fill these needs with material things is to set up an unquenchable appetite for false solutions to real problems.
J. Paul lived a simple life free from the concern of material things. His joy and contentment was not based on his circumstances. His joy was not based on having a lot of stuff.