The theme for our ‘bite size bible message’ this morning is Contentment…
I’d like to begin by asking you all a few questions. You don’t have to answer them now, but I’d like you to think what your answers would be
*Are you content with life?
*Are you content with your house? Your car? Your wife! Your husband!!
*Have you ever been content? Did it last for a long time, or was it just for a moment?
*Is it possible to be content all of the time?
From my experience of life, contentment with what the world has to offer is short lived. It satisfies for a moment, but then seems to slowly dissolve away,…and like a drug, I need to find something else that can provide me with that contented ‘high’. Cars, bikes, a house, a better job, a wife, children, a new TV, a new camera, a holiday, a new drive, a garden makeover! On and on it goes, like a never ending cycle. Satisfaction is found for a moment, and then it’s gone.
This was the experience of King Solomon, you can read about him in the book of Ecclesiastes in the bible. King Solomon had all he could ever wish for, power, prestige and wealth. Anything he wanted he could have but he could not find lasting satisfaction. In his pursuit of the meaning of life through indulging his every desire, he concluded this was like ‘chasing after the wind’.
In stark contrast, the Apostle Paul claimed “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstance” Phil 4:11b. And that was quite an assertion for Paul to make, because Paul’s life was characterised by persecution and suffering. History records numerous times that Paul was whipped, he was thrown into prison, he was stoned, he was shipwrecked, he was hunted by his enemies, he was starved of food, of water and of sleep and he had the huge task of nurturing all the fledgling churches that were growing up in a climate of vicious persecution 2 Cor 11:23-26. But Paul said, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstance”.
How was that possible? Solomon, a man who had everything, could not find contentment and yet Paul at the opposite end of the spectrum who was tortured, imprisoned and at times destitute said, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstance”?
The bible tells us it was because God had transformed Paul’s life. God forgave all his sins and renewed him on the inside. Paul was content because he had friendship with God. No longer did he fear man, or death, or judgement. And he didn’t fear persecution or suffering, because he knew his reward would be in heaven.
Jesus tells us in the bible how we can be content. He said:
“Blessed are you who are poor (in Spirit),
for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who hunger now,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh." Luke 6:20-21
Jesus wasn't saying you will be blessed, or in other words, that you will be content if you are short of money, or hungry, or by crying a lot! No. The bible is very clear:
*Blessed are you who are poor in Spirit – those who recognise their need for forgiveness
*Blessed are you who hunger now – those who hunger for God’s forgiveness, Jesus said “I am the bread of life, he who comes to me will never go hungry…”
*Blessed are you who weep now – those people who grieve over their sin and want to stop sinning, to repent of it
Jesus told us that true contentment is found when we receive God’s forgiveness and live for him
However, I urge you also to take note of Jesus warning which followed His words of blessing:
“But woe to you who are rich,
for you have already received your comfort.
25Woe to you who are well fed now,
for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will mourn and weep. Luke 6:24-25
Again, Jesus wasn’t saying it is wrong to be rich, and well fed and happy! Instead, it is a warning to people who do not think they need to be forgiven, and reject Jesus message.
So this Christmas, when you remember baby Jesus being born, remember that he is God’s gift to all people, and that his death on the cross was for our forgiveness:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”
Thank you for listening. Jn 3:16