The Secret To Contentment
(1 Timothy 6:6-8 KJV) But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
We live in the most discontented society ever. In fact, our culture thrives on discontent. Our economy relies upon our discontent. Our biggest problems occur because of our discontent. We are not happy with the way we look. We are not happy with how much money we make. We are not happy with our spouse. We are not happy with our children. We are not happy with our jobs. We are not happy with our homes. We are not happy with our cars. We are a most discontent people. Even the Church gets caught up in the discontent. We discover the prosperity theology with itís wealth, health and name it claim it spells, and the church chases after it and joins the rat race of discontent. It is ugly, tragic and ungodly.
Today I want us to take a good look at ourselves and through it learn the secret to contentment.
First letís try to define contentment. In todayís society, we might define contentment as the absence of all problems. If that was indeed the true definition of contentment then we all know that no one could ever find it for we are never free from problems for long, if at all. A better definition of content might be to be satisfied and content in the midst of any problem.
Paul in His letter to the Philippians tells us that he has learned ho to be content in all situations.
(Philippians 4:11- 13 KJV) Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
The first thing I want us to understand is the fact that Paul learned to be content. The Greek word translated learned interestingly is the same word which math is derived from. In school you had to practice your times tables over and over to learn them. Math is something that does not come easy to a lot of people but once you get it, you got it. So, if Paul then learned how to be content in all situations maybe we can also learn from him this secret to contentment.
You noticed I said in whatsoever state that he was in, right? Paul was not one who spent a lot of time living in luxury. Even as he wrote this letter to the Philippians, he was imprisoned, chained to a Roman guard waiting a trial, which would most likely bring about his death.
Paul suffered greatly yet through it all learned to be content. Look at just a few of the things that Paul went through.
(2 Corinthians 11:24-28 KJV) Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
Not many of us can say we have been through anything like that, yet we let our circumstances dictate our contentment.
So the first secret we can discover from Paul is not lo let circumstances dictate your contentment. This man did not live in a fantasy, he lived a nightmare. How on earth can anyone be content when so much is going against them?
One thing I want you to know about contentment is that it is not giving up or giving into the circumstances. The Greek stoics would teach how to be content by not caring. They would tell you to start by when hurting your hand saying I donít care. Then when someone close to you dies you should again not care and finally you could face death yourself and not care. That is not contentment, that is stupidity. That is like putting your head in the sand and waiting for the gruesome inevitable.
True contentment is full of hope and faith and inner peace because you know that God is in control.
We all have a lot of garbage in our lives but it is not the garbage that counts as much as how we look at it and what we do with it. In Max Lucadoís book Just like Jesus He tells about a man who studies garbage to better understand societies. He discovered that Americans produce about a half a pound of trash every day. Now with what, something like 80 million people in the United States that makes it about 40 million pounds of trash a day. Now that is a lot of garbage. The truth is we have a lot going on in our lives that we would rather not look at. But you can not just hide your garbage and make believe it is not there. Sooner or later it is going to start to stink. You have to learn how to deal with it. You have to know which day to leave it out for the garbage men to come and pick it up. You have to learn how and what to recycle. OK I am guilty of not doing that one. The idea here is that you have to live with the fact that there is going to be garbage in your life and not let it affect your peace of mind.
OK, so now we have two principles to being content. The first is to not let your circumstances dictate your contentment. The second is to learn to trust in God. Now, in trusting in God that does not mean that you can go ahead and do what ever you want and God will make everything work out. It does not mean that all you have to say is open sesame and by a divine miracle, God will open up the heavens and pour out your daily bread. It means that you will discover the gifts, talents and abilities that God has given you and putting them to work you will be able to overcome any obstacle. It means that by trusting in God you can do all things. It means that by putting your faith in God you are more than a conqueror. Look in Ephesians the third Chapter with me.
(Ephesians 3:14-21 KJV) For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
Notice how Paulís prayer is that we be strengthened with might by His spirit in OUR INNER MAN, and how it is according to the POWER THAT WORKETH IN US, that God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we could ever think to ask for.
Paul was not a man to just roll over and die. He fought the good fight. Being content does not mean that we are not in the battle. Being content is knowing that our fight is not in vain. Being content is knowing that we are on the right and the winning side. Being content is realizing your purpose in life and living it our to the utmost.
And when we get to the end of our rope, when we can not take any more. When we get to the point where the garbage is piled up over our heads and we are unable to go on; God infuses us with His power and we discover how it is not by our might nor by our power but by His Spirit that all things are possible and no weapon formed against us will prosper, and the victory is ours in and through and because of Christ Jesus the LORD.
It is kind of like a pacemaker. It is there to be relied upon when the heart gives out. It is only when the heart needs it that the pace maker kicks in and takes over until the heart can once again beat strong on its own. It is with the knowledge that God is our pacemaker that we can go on content in the knowledge that He will never leave us nor forsake us.
(Hebrews 13:5 KJV) Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
So it is in trusting in God we can find our contentment. It is in being obedient to His word that we can learn how to be content. It is in not letting the circumstances dictate your contentment that you can learn the secret to contentment.
There is basically two ways we can go from here. We can continue to be discontent and not be able to distinguish between our needs and our wants, or we can know that God will supply all our needs according to His riches in glory. The difference is how you look at life. The humanist would say that there is no God, so the ultimate purpose in life is to satisfy man. And in that quest for satisfaction, you can let this discontented culture pull you into their discounted trap of materialism, or you can choose to live your life with and for a higher purpose. Paul knew that the chief end of man was not to satisfy our desires but to worship and enjoy the presence of God. True contentment is found in living in the eternal now to the glory of God.
Not worrying about tomorrow, or disappointed about yesterday, but living in the present. Right now is the time of your salvation. Right now is when you can lay all your burdens at the foot of the cross and leave them there. Right now you can be set free from the rat race that keeps you running and running, striving for contentment and invite Jesus inside your heart and discover that your contentment is there to stay.
Does that mean that all your problems are going to go away? No, but it might just be the new outlook you need on all the garbage to get it to the curb. My prayer for us all today is that God would open our eyes that we might be able to see the purpose behind the pain. For when we put our trust completely in God and discover His strength in our weakness, we can face tomorrow with the same joy, which is in our hearts today.
So, donít let your circumstances dictate your contentment but praise God for being your strength to see you through them all for His glory. In Jesus name; Amen