The Most Happy People
Jeff Kolk - Cross Road Baptist Church - Lufkin, TX
Who are the most happy people? The rich? - No, both rich and poor suffer from discontentment. I would say the most happy people are the content people. Let’s see what Paul says to the church at Philippi.
Read Text (Phil 4:10-14 NASB)
10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity.
11. Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
14 Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction.
Paul learned to be content. He learned a lesson we need to learn about God. We need to not only trust Him to supply our needs (not wants) (see Phil 3:19 - "my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus")
We need to learn to be satisfied with whatever He provides.
ILLUST - Here’s a little illustration to show how easily we are robbed of our contentment.
It’s a hot, muggy, Sunday morning in July. You are at church and fighting to keep your mind off the temperature and on the sermon. The sermon gives you a new appreciation for God’s redemptive plan. We are content to endure the heat to hear one more time about Jesus who endued the punishment on the cross for our sins. Then a familiar sound comes through the windows. It’s the music jingle from the ice cream truck next thing we know our thoughts are on a cherry popsicle. In seconds our minds have gone from eternal salvation to ice cream and from contentment to dissatisfaction. (source: Our Daily Bread - Radio Bible Class)
We must recognize that there are many "ice cream trucks" in the world robbing us of contentment and happiness.
Contentment does not mean we must never try to improve our situation in life. We are to be content with what we have but that does not stop us from diligently using the skills and abilities we have been given by the Lord. However, if our desire to get ahead causes us to neglect our families and our fellowship and walk with the Lord then there is a serious problem.
God’s standard. Mark 12:30-31 Love him first! - As long as we are more concerned about glorifying God and meeting his approval than anything else we can and should use our abilities to improve our circumstances.
Transition: Contentment is learned. There are 3 areas I would like us to explore today in learning to be content.
1. Contentment by Knowing Jesus
2. Contentment from Material Things
3. Contentment through Life’s Adversities
1. Contentment by Knowing Jesus
A. Solving the Sin problem:
- All people are looking for answers in life. People are looking for happiness and peace. Our founding fathers knew this (from the Declaration of Independence, 1776)
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit
Being at peace with God and His world is the foundation to lasting contentment and happiness. (Illust.) An early church father (Origen) said, "there is a God shaped vacuum in every man and only God can fill it"
Question - How are you filling that "God shaped vacuum?" Have you received Jesus as your savior?
+ Romans 6:23 (Read and comment on quotes)
+ The "wages" of sin
+ is "death"
+ "free gift" of God
+ "eternal life"
+ "through Christ Jesus" (the only way John 14:6)
If you have not yet received Christ as your personal Savior you can today. We must admit our sin, turn from it and receive Christ by placing our faith and trust in Him (believing in Him).
+ Until we receive Him we will be searching for everything on the world to fill that void that only Jesus can fill and we will never have lasting contentment.
B. Walking the walk (lifestyle)
- We are not to be content in our walk (or relationship) with Jesus. We should always be looking to grow and develop it.
- We should be "press on" as Paul says in Phil 3:13-14
"Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
Contentment begins with knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior and continues as we walk with the Lord each day.
Many here have trusted in Christ and yet still find that contentment is not there. It may be due to the following: Material things or adversity.
2. Contentment from Material Things (v. 10-11)
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am
+ (Illust.) A man said, "I had no shoes and complained until I met a man with no feet."
+ The want of material things can kill contentment in both the life of the Christian and the non-Christian. We need to learn the difference between "wants and needs." God promises to supply all our needs according to His riches in glory. (v.19)
+ Material things do not bring lasting satisfaction. Someone has said, "he who’s content has enough, He who complains has too much."
+ We must learn to hold lightly the things of this world. Only then can we really enjoy them.
Check points to help us identify unhealthy desire:
1. Do I buy in impulse or after thought and prayer?
2. Do I give my "first fruits" to the Lord’s work? or what is left over (or maybe nothing at all?)
3. Do I get upset when something is lost or destroyed?
4. Do I need to buy something to be happy?
5. Do my material possessions hinder my testimony for Christ?
6. Does what I want make it easier or harder to serve the Lord?
+ I think Paul had learned the lesson of contentment because he already knew what the writer of Hebrew says in Hebrews 13:5
"Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, "I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,""
We may have contentment in knowing the Lord and we may be free from the chains of materialism but there may still be something that robs
us of our contentment. What about circumstances? What happens when things turn bad, do we lose our contentment?
3. Contentment through Life’s Adversities (v.12-13)
I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
(Illustrate) One day a farmer’s donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally he decided the animal was old and the well needed to be covered up anyway, it just wasn’t worth it to retrieve the donkey So he invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone’s amazement, he quieted down. A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well and was astonished at what he saw. With every shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was
doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up. As the farmer’s neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and trotted off!
Moral: Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a stepping stone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up!
+ Paul experienced many other trying things:
+ 5 times 39 lashes
+ 3 times beaten with rods
+ danger from robbers and false brethren
How did he overcome? Mind over matter? NO
+ Through it all he held one thing true - He had been laid hold of by Christ (Phil 3:12)
+ His trials actually brought him closer to Christ Jesus.
For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day (2 Tim 1:12)
+ When preparing this sermon I thought about a few people I have known that have inspired me through their personal adversities. Both battled cancer and eventually lost their fight but their example lives on even today. Wanda Andrick (college days Sunday School teacher with brain cancer) and Billy McGaughey (member here at Cross Road Baptist Church) both showed me they were happy people. I’m sure it was not because the pain and suffering they went through, but because both had learned to be content. Both were faithful to their churches until the end. They had reason not to be faithful, after all, people would understand. I believe they could say, as Paul did in v. 13 - I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. And they used that strength to give us a wonderful example of faithfulness.
+ Phil 1:21 tell us - To live is Christ and to die is gain. Wanda and Billy "gained" but they also lived an example of contentment to me.
1 Timothy 6:6 - But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.
Horatio Spafford wrote a great and mighty song about contentment (It is Well With My Soul). He lost 4 children
and almost his wife in a shipwreck in route to England. Mrs Spafford prayed that the children would be saved if possible and that they might be willing to die if that were the will of God. "Saved alone" she wired her husband back home in the USA. D.L. Moody was in Scotland and went south to comfort the parents. Moody was pleased to find them saying, "It is well; the will of God be done"
From this personal tragedy he wrote these words:
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll,
Whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
Notice Spafford says God has TAUGHT him to say it is well. Just like Paul learned contentment we also need to learn this valuable lesson. Will you learn the lesson of contentment and be part of God’s most happy people.