Today Pastor Choi talks about contentment. Based on Adam Hamilton’s Book ‘Enough,’ he makes four suggestions to cultivate contentment in the believer’s life: a. Say “It Could Be Worse.” b. Ask “How Long Will This Make Me Happy? c. Develop a Grateful Heart d. Ask ” Where Does My Soul Find True Satisfaction?” By doing so, we will find ourselves content in all circumstances.
Following is a summary of his sermon:
Which “Tent” Will You Live in? Luke 12:15, Hebrews 13:5
- Luke 12:15
- New International Version (NIV)
- 15 Then he [Jesus] said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
- Hebrews 13:5
- New International Version (NIV)
- 5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
- “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Fire in the House:
- Imagine that your house is on fire, and you have five minutes to grab something (besides, the people and the pets) and get out of the house; what would you save?
– Smart phones, laptop computers, iPads, Bible, jewelry, stuffed animals, pillows, family albums, important documents, purse, shoes, diploma, and so on.
- Your answer reveals your priorities. This scenario forces us to think about the nature of possessions, doesn’t it? We cannot take them with us. (E.g. Movie: You Can’t Take It With You (1938) a comedy film directed by Frank Capra that won two Academy Awards : Best Picture and Best Director).
- Nothing in this world is permanent. Our material possessions don’t last forever, either: in fact, when we are gone, most of our stuff will be obsolete or wouldn’t mean much to anyone else but to us. That’s why I say “amen” to Jesus who declares, “Life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”
- The problem is this: we say that our lives do not consist in the abundance of possessions, yet our actions betray our words. We live and act as if they do, because most of us are, as Pastor Adam Hamilton puts, afflicted with affluenza and credit-itis. He also points out to another condition that afflicts our hearts: Restless Heart Syndrome (p. 55, “Enough,” Adam Hamilton).
Restless Heart Syndrome (RHS):
- Have you heard of restless leg syndrome (RLS)? It is a medical condition that causes twitches and contractions in the legs. Restless Heart Syndrome works in a similar pattern, Hamilton claims, but only this time it afflicts our hearts – or souls – instead. Its main symptom? Discontentment. Afflicted with RHS, our hearts never become satisfied with anything: as soon as we get one thing, we hardly take time to enjoy it before we want something else. We are perpetually discontent. This is the nature of RHS; if left unchecked, it can destroy us.
- I am not saying that every type of discontent is bad. On the contrary, there is a certain discontent that God intends us to keep or never depart from. We can call it godly/holy discontent. Our hearts are wired in a way that they would be discontent with certain things. For instance, James Mackintosh, the great Scottish philosopher and politician of the early nineteenth century, said this: “It is right to be contented with what we have, but never with what we are” (ibid., p. 56). It is right for us “to be discontent with our moral character, our spiritual life, our pursuit of holiness, our desire for justice, and our ability to love…” (ibid.) because God wants us to grow and improve in these areas. However, it is never good for us to be discontent with our possessions.
- Let me say again: with certain things, God wants us to be content and we are to be discontent with others. The problem is this: we tend to get them mixed. We tend to be discontent with those things we are supposed to be content with and content with those things we are supposed to be discontent with!
- Listen to what Pastor Hamilton says: “The problem is that we tend to be content with our involvement in pursuing justice in the world. We tend to be content with our level of righteousness—sometimes being self-righteous. We tend to be content with how much we love others. We tend to be content with our relationship with God. We tend to be content with how often we read the Bible and pray. Generally, we are satisfied with those things that deserve more of our time and attention” (ibid.).
- “Likewise, those things we should be content with are the very things we find ourselves hopelessly discontented with. Most of us, for instance, experience discontentment with our stuff – our homes, cars, televisions, gadgets, clothes, and a whole host of other things” (ibid.)
- Here are more examples:
– 70% of the workforce in America is disengaged / discontented with their jobs (p. 8, “The State of the American Workplace: Employee Engagement Insights for U.S. Business Leaders,” Gallup 2012).
– Many of us do the same thing when it comes to the church, our parents, our children, and even with our marriages.
- The way we live our lives with discontentment is like this: if we say to God, “I don’t like what you have given me, God, and I want something else. I want to trade it in and want something better than what you gave me” (ibid., p. 59).
- Clearly, we struggle with discontentment. So, what can we do about it?
Four Suggestions for Contentment:
- Hamilton suggests the following four ways to cultivate contentment in our lives.
- It Could Be Worse (I.C.B.W.): whenever you find yourself discontented with something or someone, remind yourself that it could be worse. John Ortberg, the pastor at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in California, makes an excellent suggestion as follows: When you are getting into your five-year old car in the parking lot, say, “I.C.B.W.” As you walk into your house or apartment that is in desperate need of repairs, say, “I.C.B.W.” When you go to work and are faced with problems and difficulties and disappointments, say, “I.C.B.W.” When you are frustrated and disappointed with your spouse, say, ”I.C.B.W.” (ibid., p. 60).
- This practice helps us to look on the bright side or find the silver lining. This will also help us to recognize that whatever we may dislike, a thing, person, or circumstance, we can always find something good to focus on.
- How Long Will This Make Me Happy?: The second key to contentment is to ask yourself a simple question: How long will this make me happy? “So often we buy something, thinking it will make us happy, only to find that the happiness lasts about as long as it takes to open the box” ( ibid. ) E.g. Think of the many children’s Christmas gifts.
- This practice is especially helpful to control the “urge” of buying something instantly. Wait 24 hours and see how much you can control your impulsive buying habits.
- The third key to contentment is to develop a grateful heart. Gratitude is essential if we want to be content. Contentment will come to us when we spend more time in giving thanks for what we already have than complaining about what’s missing or wrong in our lives. Here’s the fact: in any situation, we can either complain or be thankful. We humans are, as Rick Warren says, animals of habit. Either we pick up the habit of complaining or we pick up the habit of being grateful. We can focus on all the things we don’t like, or we can begin to search for the things we like and be grateful for them. We can focus on the disappointments in life, or we can give thanks for the blessings.
- Many of us believe that the feelings should come first, but it actually works the other way around. In other words, do not wait until good things happen so as to be grateful. Start right away today to be thankful, then your feelings will follow. Act first and feelings will follow. E.g. G. K. Chesterton writes, “There is the great lesson of ‘Beauty and the Beast’; that a thing must be loved before it is loveable” (p. 50, Orthodoxy, G. K. Chesterton). If we say first to someone, “I love you,” and do loving things, then eventually the loving feelings will follow. Likewise, when we begin to be grateful and express gratitude to God, over time we will find our hearts changed and we will be grateful for what we have. Then, we can be content.
- The fourth key to contentment is to ask yourself this question: Where Does My Soul Find True Satisfaction? The world lies to us, brainwashing us that it can be found in ease, luxury, comfort, and money. The Bible, however, answers the question quite differently. In every book, it reminds us that God alone is the source of our true satisfaction and contentment.
- Listen to St. Augustine’s prayer: “Thou hast created us for Thyself, and our heart is not quiet until it rests in Thee” ( http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/s/saintaugus385403.html#wDrUJagtWFKpRTI9.99).
- Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). The Psalmist said, “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you, my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you…./ My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods…..(63:1, 5-6).
- Blaise Pascal wrote: “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.” http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/b/blaisepasc395508.html#tM5jyq6yQ7GjJ7Xg.99
- Paul the Apostle confessed that all of his deepest needs were satisfied in his relationship with God through Christ. “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. I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13). He has found the secret to contentment. He found Christ to be his source, the One who satisfies his every need and enables him to be content in all circumstances.
- One thing is for sure: the longings of our souls cannot be satisfied with material possessions or an abundance of wealth. The only real satisfaction of our souls is Jesus Christ. We can be content because we know Christ is by our side no matter what we’re walking through. The writer of the Book of Hebrews was right when he said it this way: “Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for [Christ] has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’ So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid’” (13:5-6). With this assurance, we can face whatever each day may bring with contentment and joy.
- Which “tent” will you live in? Discon‘tent’ or Con‘tent’? Choose today.
- Let’s pray.