A. “Contentment is a pearl of great price, and whosoever procures it at the expense of ten thousand desires makes a wise and happy purchase” (John Balguy).
1. Contentment is a very precious commodity to possess in this life of disappointments and heartaches.
2. All Christians should join with King David and say, “He maketh me to lie in green pastures” (Psa. 23:2) – That’s a great picture of contentment
B. Many today are like the two little teardrops floating down the river of life. One tear drop asked the other, “Who are you?” “I am a teardrop from a girl who loved a man and lost him. But who are you?” The first tear drop replied, “I am a tear drop from the girl who got him.”
1. Life is like as is seen in these teardrops.
2. We all too often cry over the things we can’t have, but we might cry twice as hard if we had received them.
A. WHAT IS CONTENTMENT?
1. Viewed negatively
a. Contentment is not insensibility.
1) The Stoics strove to eliminate all feeling and all emotion until they could say, “I don’t care” if a plate has broken, or if some bodily injury happened to them.
2) Contentment does not destroy all possibility of caring.
b. Contentment is not self-satisfaction, to be so happy with yourself that you never try improve yourself.
c. Contentment is not apathetic indifference.
2. Viewed positively
a. To be content means to rest satisfied, to be well-pleased; not to be disgruntled or disheartened.
b. Webster says that contentment means “freedom from care and discomfort.”
c. Content comes from and means:
1) sufficient for one’s self, strong enough or processing enough to need no aid or support
2) independent of external circumstances
3) contented with one’s lot, though the slenderest
B. WHAT DO THE SCRIPTURES SAY ABOUT CONTENTMENT?
1. “Be content with your wages” (Lk. 3:14).
a. Such was the teaching of John the Baptist to the soldiers.
b. Such contentment would prevent them from intimidating others, and practicing blackmail because of their low wage scale.
2. Philippians 4:11
a. Paul penned this while he was in prison! Yet, he was content!! How could this be???
b. Well, Paul had learned that contentment and happiness are not dependent on external circumstances, but inner qualities of the heart, and upon a right relationship with the Lord.
3. 1 Timothy 6:6-8
a. Someone once said, “The poorest man in the world is the man who has more than he needs but feels like it isn’t enough.”
b. In godliness and contentment there is GREAT gain.
4. Hebrews 13:5
a. This text is not teaching that we should not try to improve our status in life; but, rather that we should avoid a misplaced emphasis on the material things.
b. This verse does not forbid all lawful efforts to improve our own condition and that of others, for that would be inconsistent with Bible teaching.
1) Ephesians 4:28 … work to be able to give to others
2) Romans 12:11 … diligent working is serving the Lord
c. What Paul sets forth in this verse in Hebrews is, that no matter what the circumstances, put your trust in the Lord, and things will work together for our good.
C. FOES OF CONTENTMENT
a. In Hebrews 13:5 covetousness is put over against contentment as the antithesis of contentment, and even as an enemy of contentment.
b. The secret of contentment is knowing how to enjoy what you have and being able to lose all desire for things beyond your reach.
a. The Lord’s instruction to be content is based upon His promises that He will not forsake us, that He will never leave us, that He will help us and that we need not fear what man may do … Hebrews 13:5-6
b. He promises to sustain us with the physical necessities of life
1) Matthew 6:24-34
2) Psalm 37:25
I have been young, and now am old; Yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his seed begging bread
c. If we believe God how cannot help but be content?
a. Envy is the chagrin or discontent at the excellence or good fortune of another.
b. Saul was content with the praise he was getting until he saw David getting more (1 Sam. 18:8-9).
c. The Philistines were content with their lot until they saw the possessions of Isaac (Gen. 26:14).
d. Haman was contented until he saw Mordecai sit in the king’s gate (Est. 5:9-14).
e. Envy is an insidious evil which must be eradicated from our hearts.
a. Illustration… shoe salesmen in Africa
b. The discontented pessimist when asked how things are will reply, “They are so much worse than yesterday, and so much better than I expect them to be tomorrow.”
a. The prodigal son was discontent personified, and he was guilty of self-pity (Lk. 15:29).
b. Too many cry, “Life has cheated me,” or “I’m so unfortunate.”
c. Pity is good, but it ought not be wasted on one’s self.
a. The discontented person is seldom willing to keep his discontent to himself.
b. “I complained about having no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet. I complained about no one visiting my family until I found a person who had no family. I complained about the members until I mover where there were none. I complained about the Bible teacher until I tried teaching. I complained about not having fine clothes until I saw one in rags.”
D. HOW DO WE CULTIVATE CONTENTMENT?
1. Work at it!
a. Paul had to “learn” contentment (Phil. 4:11).
b. If we close the doors to the foes of contentment and develop the things which cultivate it.
2. Count your blessings
a. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
b. Ephesians 5:20
3. Transfer your attention and affection to higher and holier matters
a. Matthew 6:33
b. Christ was contented; and, His meat was to do the will of His Father (Jn. 4:34).
c. You will seldom find a discontented person who is not also materialistic
4. Keep busy
a. An idle mind is the devil’s workshop
b. Be like Jesus who went about doing good (Acts 10:38).
c. Then we will not have time to enlarge our bruises…
5. Think about how bad it could be
a. Things can always be a lot worse
b. You do not have to look far to find someone worse off than you
6. Learn that happiness is not tied to things
a. Luke 12:15
b. Our society does not believe this … thus, many are discontent