“Secrets” of Contentment

1 Timothy 6:6-10

Man created incomplete – evident from very beginning, first day of creation. Gen. 2:18 – “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” God did just that, built up a woman from one of man’s ribs. Important to understand something: in themselves, Adam and Eve were incomplete even together. They did experience perfect wholeness…. for short period of time…. before their rebellion and catastrophe of sin.

Mankind created in image of God, means there are characteristics in common – God is relational, always has been and always will be. Expressed in our description of God as Trinity – one God, three persons. For a moment let’s reverse the order – three persons in one God: Father, Son, Spirit, one God. Father, Son, Spirit in eternal oneness and fellowship and relationship. Man’s creation as relational being requires certain things for fulfillment, wholeness: human relationships are necessary, so is relationship between man and God.

In the Garden Adam and Eve broke up with God, ended the relationship they had with God since their creation. Left a huge void crying to be filled again, same void every one of their natural offspring is born with. One exception, of course – supernatural offspring, Lord Jesus. Every man, woman, boy and girl goes to great lengths to fill the void, satisfy the emptiness, their relational need.

Especially in first-world country like ours, all sorts of things clamor for our attention, promising pleasure and satisfaction and contentment – buy this, try this, go here, experience that; you deserve it, you know you want it. World falls for the line every time, fails in the quest because none of those things have characteristics of what is missing. We know that, we’ve found the answer, we’ve responded to Gospel call and filled the void with the right solution: God. Means we’re immune to seduction of stuff, to idea that we’ll be just a little bit happier if we have this or that. Right?

Umm, wrong! Remember who our text is addressed to: pastor of local church, understanding he would pass along teaching to his church. Also would be passed along to next generation of leaders in the church. Christians by no means immune to misunderstanding, deception, false teaching about way to contentment. That’s why v.5 identifies the error, v.6ff lays out once again right perspective, right relationship between godliness, gain, and contentment.

Wrong view: godliness is a means of gain. Right view: godliness is great gain. And,… true godliness accompanied by contentment.

A. pursue God v.6

pursue contentment, will never achieve it; by God’s design it’s result of pursuing Him

“What a far way about do men go for contentment, while they compass the creation for it, and when all is done miss it?” Thomas Boston

notice what comes first: godliness

that is what is to be achieved, nourished, encouraged by pursuing God

learned attitude, to be satisfied with God

must look beyond the gifts to the Giver

gifts given for this life are finite – even best gift, perfect gift, if finite will not satisfy forever

Giver is infinite – greatest gift he gives is gift of himself

2 Cor. 6:16 For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.”

so what is contentment? what is it to be satisfied with God?

read Phil. 4:11-13

means to not depend on particular circumstances for meaning, purpose, fulfillment, satisfaction

e.g.: what you do does not define who you are; presence or absence of children does not define purpose

notice Paul’s perspective: whatever his level of support, he willingly accepted and was satisfied with it as God’s perfect provision

used skills God had given to best of ability, was content with the result – not complaining, not constantly thinking how to acquire more

B. recognize ownership v.7

all we have is ours by God’s gracious providence; he can recall any or all at any time – 1 Cor. 4:7

One day a group of scientists got together and decided that man had come a long way and no longer needed God. So they picked one scientist to go and tell God that they were done with Him.

The scientist walked up to God and said, “God, we’re to the point that we can clone people and do many miraculous things. We’ve decided that we no longer need you.”

God listened very patiently and kindly to the man and after the scientist was done talking, God said, “Very well, how about this, let’s say we have a ‘man-making’ contest.” To which the scientist replied, “OK, great!”

God added, “Now, we’re going to do this just like I did back in the old days with Adam.” The scientist said, “Sure, no problem” and bent down and grabbed himself a handful of dirt.

God just looked at him and said, “No, no, no. You go get your own dirt!”

anything work can achieve or wealth can acquire will not leave this world

power, position, possessions, monuments, titles, achievements, all the world holds dear (and much Christians pursue as well) are for this life only

but,…but,…what about all I’ve done for Christ and his Kingdom?

first, if you’ve truly done it for Christ, who gets the glory? He does, of course

second, what have you done on your own for Christ? whose dirt did you use?

so, even things we take out of this world – investment made to build up body of believers – only result of what God has graciously enabled us to do, and has accomplished through us

C. understand need v.8

must properly distinguish between necessity and desire

enjoying something or wanting something doesn’t make it a necessity

food, clothing/shelter necessary for long-term survival; beyond that, except for people with specific medical conditions, represents additional blessing from God

with that additional blessing comes additional responsibility – more in a moment

~50% of world lives on < $2 / day ==> don’t miss the point, vast majority of them not only survive, they live to grow up and produce next generation

at the very least, should be incentive to objectively consider: what do I really need, why would I not be content with that?

must also distinguish between self-imposed necessities and basic needs for life

things lead to things, in choices we make about necessities, too

do you really need 17 kinds of soup or would 2 or 3 suffice? a $30,000 car when one 1/2 the cost would be adequate? an estate when modest home would provide proper shelter?

each of those “larger” choices means you “need” larger income to meet your “needs”; hmm, what’s the better way?

finally, must be proper stewards what God blesses us with over/above needs

God regularly supplies more than absolute basic necessities – what do you do with the surplus?

can use it up pursuing great American dream; or,…can invest in God’s people

help to provide materials for theological training of pastors in Brazil; help to provide Bibles for brothers/sisters in northern Africa; help pay salaries for indigenous evangelists targeting unreached people groups

DV, you’ll see results of those investments and others like them in heaven

D. avoid deception v.9-10

false promises – if you do / have / believe this, then you’ll be content

unless it is “do what is pleasing to God, have all that he graciously supplies, believe he knows and does what is best for you”, it’s an empty promise

you’ll be pursuing wrong thing and it will never be enough

everything world offers – all you see in junk mail advertising, TV commercials, roadside signs – something less than God

constant intense pressure to buy into their solution, what Satan would like most; he knows it leads to slavery, not contentment

How do you avoid that, how do you learn contentment and its secrets as Paul did?

“If anyone should say, There is a particular thing in my condition that above all things I cannot be content without; there is something I would have, and God does not see fit to give it to me: what shall I do to be content. I would say, be what it will, go to God, and make a solemn exchange of that thing. If he has kept that from you, he offers you what is as good and better, himself, instead of it. Renounce that thing, give it up, and take Christ instead of it; and having taken him so, believe that you have him instead of it. Say, Lord, there is an empty room in this heart of mine, such a comfort would I have to fill it; but you see fit to refuse it; therefore I give it up; your will be done; but I take you yourself instead to fill up that room. And now I have made the exchange, and Christ is to me instead of that which I want. So you shall find your heart satisfied.” Thomas Boston

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