THE GOOD LIFE: Choose Contentment (Part 8 in a Series)

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Message Recap | 09.07.2014
Speaker: Aaron Taylor, Lead Pastor

Growing up in the 1950s and 60s things were different.  You might say, “Well, yeah!” But I will tell you I didn’t really realize what I was missing in terms of others having more than what we had.  My friends, neighbors, even family lived on a very small budget back then.  I remember when we got our first black and white television set.  It was an event.  We had our cousins, aunts, and uncles over to our apartment and we had a party.  Everyone was so happy about the television set.  My dad worked so hard to get enough money set aside to buy it.  Now fast forward to today. Yes, I have so much more than I had when I was growing up.  Times change and cultures change and things are different.  But when I think about my childhood, my brother and I were quite content.  We knew how hard our dad worked every day.  Can I say that I am content now?  That’s food for further thought.

The world we live in is a world of “more”.  We are bombarded from all directions that there is a product or service that we just cannot live without if we want to be happy and enjoy life.  “As Seen on TV” is an expression I believe most Americans are familiar with.  If I were to succumb to the ads, my kitchen would be filled to overflowing with kitchen gadgets. (a personal weakness of mine)

As we look at Ecclesiastes Chapter 6, we will see that King Solomon’s desire for more and the lack of discovering satisfaction under the sun is also meaningless or vanity.  Researchers have studied happiness and discovered a curious reality: Income does not guarantee happiness.  What was discovered was that there were both happy and unhappy people, both rich and poor around the world.  What was unexpected was that in some of the poorest countries there were some of the happiest people. Researcher Carol Graham said, “The bottom line is that people can adapt to tremendous adversity and retain their natural cheerfulness, while they can also have virtually everything—including good health—and be miserable.”  Carol has labeled this phenomenon as the, “Happy Peasant and Miserable Millionaire” problem.

This paradox is exactly what Solomon described thousands of years earlier—people who have everything under the sun and being unable to enjoy it.  The truth is, this is not a resource problem.  In our country, there are a tremendous amount of resources available to us and many programs and helps available when we fall on difficult times.  In America, unlike most nations, we do not lack for resources.  What we have is a contentment problem.

Jeremiah Burroughs defines contentment as “…that inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, freely submitting to and taking pleasure in God’s disposal in every condition.”  Contentment means my happiness is not dependent upon circumstances. It supersedes my circumstances and is found in something far greater.  Contentment is found first and foremost in our relationship with God and our trust in His goodness.”

If you want to learn more about the meaning of contentment and where satisfaction in life is found, listen to our podcast at http://painesvilleag.com/good-life for the complete message.

Friend, traps exist that keep us from contentment.  We seem to always want more or we compare what we have with what others have.  Contentment is a learning process.  The Apostle Paul said that contentment was something that he learned and that it was not dependent upon his circumstances.  (See Philippians 4:11-12)  The key to contentment is finding our strength in Jesus Christ.  This week, take a look around and look at the things you have acquired.  Then meditate on the fact that everything you possess was given to you by God.  Then thank God and praise Him for His goodness.  Remember that no matter what circumstance you face or what financial place you find yourself in (great or small), no matter what is happening in your life, you can trust God and be grateful.

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