A Life of Contentment – Part 1

This morning, we’re going to start a 2-part series. And, then, I think you know, you should know, two weeks from Friday, two weeks from tomorrow, is Good Friday, and we will be at the BCC. So, we will not meet that week. But, this week and next week, we’re starting a series. It’s really fascinating!

I was thinking about this morning. C.S. Lewis in his book, Mere Christianity, has a section on the various, he calls them vices. I call them sins. He kind of goes through and analyzes a host of them. If you go through the Bible, we could probably list all different types of sins that a human being commits. The early church had what was called the seven deadly sins. Well, I have, through all of my studies, as I was doing the research on this particular topic. And, again, this is my opinion. But I think there are three sins, or vices if you want to call them that, that have a huge impact on our lives, maybe more so than any other. Again, that’s my opinion. And, I think I’m going to make an argument on why I think they are so deadly, and they have such an impact on us. The reason I’m sharing this, as kind of an introduction, is to really get to the topic that I want to examine today, which I’ll get to in a minute. What we’re going to look at, really, is kind of an antidote for these particular sins. And, you’ll see what I mean as we get into them.

Does anybody want to guess what these three sins might be?

Man 1: One of them is pride.

Richard: Pride!

Man 2: Self-righteousness.

Richard: Self-righteousness is a form of pride.

Man 3: Greed.

Richard: Greed! We got one more.

Man 4: Lust.

Richard: Yeah, we’ve got a lot of lusts, but, no, that’s not it. That’s an issue, though. Don’t get me wrong.

Man 5: Idolatry.

Richard: Nope. Idolatry probably, would kind of, override all of them. No. It starts with an E.

Group: Envy.

Richard: Envy!

Pride, greed, and envy. And, there are a couple of reasons these are such deadly sins or vices. And, the first is, and we’ve talked about this before, so you may have heard this. The first reason they’re so deadly is that they’re so hard to detect in your life. Most people don’t think they’re guilty of any of these. I mean, how many people do you ask, “Are you greedy?” Nobody thinks they’re greedy. I’ve got control over the issue of money.

C.S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity, says this about pride. He says, “There is one vice which.” And, by the way, do you know what the chapter is? This is the only chapter he talks about all of these vices, that he doesn’t name the vice. Do you know what he calls it? The Great Sin. And he says this,

“There is one vice, of which no man in the world is free, which everyone in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else, and of which, hardly any people ever imagine that they are guilty themselves. I’ve heard people admit that they are bad-tempered, or that they cannot keep their heads about girls, or drink, or even that they’re cowards. But I don’t think that I’ve ever heard anyone, who maybe was not a Christian, accuse himself of this vice. In the same time, I very seldom met anyone who was not a Christian, who showed the slightest mercy to it in others. There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no-fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves.” And, he says, “And, the more we have it in ourselves, the more we dislike it in others.” And, he says, “The vice that I’m talking of is pride.”

And, I think he’s right on there. It’s hard to detect it in your life. What I found is you become a Christian, as you grow spiritually, you do become aware of it. But, still, it’s hard to detect. That’s why I think it’s so important, guys, that we pray and ask God, “Lord, show me the logs in my life,” (Matthew 7:3)

Now, take greed. This is the one that Keller thinks is the most, of the vices, that’s the least obvious to us. He says he found that through his own experience. He says, you know, here he is a pastor, in the largest church in New York City, I mean, probably 10,000 or more people, most who are Wall Street types. He says,

“You know, I have people coming to me all the time, sharing their problems and their issues. It may be an addiction. It may be marital problems. It may be work problems.” He says, “In all my years here in New York, I’ve never had one person come to me and say, ‘I’m struggling with greed. I’m struggling with the love of money.” And, he says, when he was giving a talk on the seven deadly sins his wife predicted that when you get to greed, “I predict nobody shows.” He disagreed with her. He said, “Sure enough, the time for the session on greed shows up,” he says, “almost nobody was there!” And, he concluded, “because nobody thinks it’s a problem for them.”

I thought about it, maybe they were afraid to be confronted by it.

And, then, you have envy. Think about it. Envy literally means to want somebody else’s life. But the problem with envy, too, is we’re blind to it. You see, these sins, these vices, guys, they’re not visible to us. And, for that reason, I think that’s probably why they’re so deadly.

This is the introduction, by the way, to my talk. It’s going to take a minute. In fact, it’s going to take us a minute before we even get to any Scripture. The second reason that these sins are so deadly is because they lead to other sins. These sins lead to more visible sins in our lives. You see, pride, greed, and envy are sins below other sins, and they lead us to commit other sins. In other words, pride, greed, and envy lead to all types of sinful actions, visible actions.

Let’s say if somebody does something dishonest in order to land a big deal, or to land a big client. Clearly, they’re aware, usually, unless they’ve killed their conscience. They’re aware that they’re doing something wrong, but they do it anyway. But, the sin below that sin is greed.

I don’t know how many of you remember Charlie Munger. I shared this when we talked about envy. Charlie Munger truly believed he’s Warren Buffett’s number two guy, they’re kind of, partners. It’s hard to believe he’s older than Buffett, and, yet, remains amazingly sharp. But he says, he is convinced that when you go back to the housing crisis, the housing bubble, he said that most people believe it was a result of greed. He says,

“I’m convinced it was more envy.”

All these people that do all these big deals. They might be making $3 or $4 million dollars, and they’re feeling really good about themselves until they find out the guy right down the hall is making seven or eight. And, he said he believed it pushed them to create products that were not in the public interest, and, really, were illegal. It’s why you saw so many go to jail. But he said,

“It wasn’t greed as much as it was envy.”

Who knows? These three vices are sins below the sin.

And, then, finally, the reason they’re also so deadly, guys, is because of what it does to our hearts and our souls. I really believe that these three vices can suck the joy out of your earthly existence. They can spoil your ability to enjoy life in the now. For instance, there was an article in Psychology Today that says that,

“The most unhappy people in life are not those that have the most money.”They said, but they’re convinced, “The most unhappy people in life are those who think about it the most, who long for it, who feel like they never have enough of it.” He says, “Those who’s hearts are captured by greed.”

A perfect literary figure that really points this out is Ebenezer Scrooge. He had more money than everybody in the town, and yet, he was the most miserable miser.

When we talked about envy a couple of years ago, Tim Keller says,

“Envy can suck the joy out of your life, like a great vacuum.” He says, “This is what happens. You lookout in the community, and you’re not aware of this. But you look out in the community, and you see people that have better lives than you, or better kids than you, or better marriages than you, and you hate it.”

It can lead to true misery. I had a man, I remember meeting, sitting right down there where Perry is. I met with him. Basically, he was looking for some counseling. He was so angry and miserable because he said,

“I felt like God has discriminated against me. All my friends that I grew up with had it so much better than I did.”

He hated it, and it truly poisoned his life.

And, then, you’ve got pride. Again, Lewis calls it,

“The anti-God state of mind.”

And one of the things about pride, we’re going to talk about this a little bit more in a minute. You’re consumed by what other people think about you. Pride allows other people’s opinions to be the gauge in which you measure your life. And, pride causes so many men to have to try to fake it through life. Everything’s great! Everything’s wonderful! And pride makes men very, very insecure. It makes for a very unhappy life.

So, let me stop here. I’ve said a lot in just a couple of minutes. Any comments or questions on anything I’ve said?

Jim: Are you going to talk about the remedy?

Richard: That’s kind of where we’re headed, yeah.

Group: (laughing)

Richard: I guess it would be pretty bad to say, “All right guys, that’s it. Let’s go home!”
Anybody else?

Steve: You know, envy and pride are kind of tied together, like leap-frog partners.

Richard: In fact, that’s a great—all three of these sins intersect. It’s almost like they’re like cousins. And, maybe that’s why they’re so deadly. But Steve’s absolutely right, you’re going to see how greed, the love of money, has to do with pride. They all intersect, as does envy. Anybody else?

Well, I want to think through these before we get to, as Jim called it, the remedy. I call it the antidote, which I’ll explain in a minute. But, think of those who are captured by greed. In their minds, they don’t have enough, because they always want more. Why do you think that is? There’s never enough. Even though they might have plenty, there’s never enough. Why do you think that is?

Man: You want more than the next guy.

Richard: You want more than the next guy, and that’s where pride comes in. You can see it again. That’s where the intersection comes in.

Man 2: You want it all.

Richard: You want it all! It’s always more.

But, if you think about it, people aren’t stupid. In our minds, we recognize that money can bring certain things into our lives, and what happens is, and we become convinced we can’t be happy without these things. It may be a possession of some kind, a home or a vehicle. It may be some vacation that you’ve got to have or the prestige that you think it will bring. More money means more prestige. It may be security. But, basically, what psychologists will tell you is that we believe that money is important because it will bring a certain amount of well-being into our lives. And, psychologists have a term, it’s called subjective well-being. It’s a great word. Subjective well-being is the clinical word for happiness. And so, there’s this equation, and again, you don’t logically think about this. It’s just, kind of, deep down in our hearts, that there’s this ever-increasing desire for more because we believe it’s that what leads to my subjective well-being.

Let’s think through pride for just a minute. What’s that about? People ask me, whenever we talk about pride, “Well, isn’t there a good side to pride?” And, I guess there is, there’s that idea of being excellent. But that’s not what the Bible speaks of when it talks about the vice of pride. It’s an arrogance. It’s about having to win the approval of others. It’s about impressing. But listen to what Lewis says. Lewis says, and this is why, as Steve said, it’s a cousin of envy. Because it leads to comparing. It leads to comparing. Listen to what he says,

“Now what you want to get clear is, that pride is, essentially, competitive. It’s competitive by its very nature. While the other vices are competitively, only so to speak, by accident. Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they’re not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others.”

Do you hear what he’s saying? It’s not that I just want to be wealthy, I just want to be wealthier than all of you guys. He says if everyone else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking, there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud, the pleasure of being above the rest; feeling or being superior.

A great example of this, in the Bible, is when Jesus shares, probably my favorite parable. And, that’s the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, who go in the Temple to pray. Both of them were going into the Temple to pray. Jesus points out, and by the way, He is sharing this with the Pharisees. And, most people don’t realize, the irony of this parable is that the Pharisees were the good guys in that culture, and the tax collectors were the bad guys. They were, kind of, like the IRS agent, and they were usually corrupt. And, yet, in this parable, you see that the Pharisee is the one that’s corrupt because of his pride and his self-righteousness. And, the tax collector, you see his humility. But, notice, what does He do in the parable as it relates to pride? Remember what He says? He says, “I thank you that I’m not like other people.” The comparison is coming in.

“I thank you I’m not like other people, swindlers, the unjust, the adulterers, or even like that tax collector.” (Luke 18:11)

What was he thinking? He was comparing. He was saying, “I am morally and spiritually superior to all these other people.” In fact, I read where George Carey, who’s the former Archbishop of Canterbury, made an observation about the parable. He says,

“This very religious, moral Pharisee, who believed in God, felt very good about himself. He was comfortable with his standing with God, yet, his pride blinded him.”

He couldn’t see the truth about himself. He didn’t see the self-righteousness in himself. He says,

“His pride blinded him, and he did not realize that something was terribly wrong with his life.”

That’s what pride does to you. It blinds us and keeps us from being able to see that there’s something terribly wrong in our hearts if, in fact, it’s captured by pride and arrogance.

Jim: Richard.

Richard: Yeah, Jim.

Jim: What if the Pharisee compared himself, not to the tax collector, but to the other?

Richard: Well, then he’d get it right. He’d get it right, because when you do that, you realize just how short you fall. Anybody else?

Randy: Did you say earlier that it is the comparison that makes you something, and that—

Richard: Let’s see. Randy, I’m not sure. Why don’t you see me afterwards, and I’ll see if I can find that for you.

Anybody else? Perry.

Perry: I keep thinking about the Verse, that regard as superior, for what do you have that you received–

Richard: That Verse that Perry just shared, I think it’s 1Corinthians 4:7, captures pride.

He says, “Why do you consider yourself superior to others when in reality, everything you have you’ve received.” (1Corinthians 4:7)

Basically, He’s saying, you’ve received from God. It’s a gift from God. And, that, right there, kind of gives us a glimpse into where we’re going, as far as the remedy.

Anybody else?

This struck me. I wanted to share this, I think this is kind of interesting. You all know what this is? What does that look like?

Man: A ladder.

Richard: A ladder. I asked you to think about when you first got out of school and started your career. Can you remember that?

Man 2: Barely.

Richard: Barely (laughing). Yes, senility is setting in.

But, remember when you started your career, and you start climbing the ladder of success. Most of my peers that I graduated with from high school and college, we all started at about the same time. You’ve got one guy you might have here, and one guy’s up here, and another one’s down here. Life would be okay if all you had to do was keep your eye on the ball, and keep your eye on your job, and what you’re doing, and do good work, and the results just take care of themselves. Do you know the real problem with this? You can’t just keep your eye on your ladder. You’re always looking over and saying, “How’s he doing?” Remember, we talked about that in Ecclesiastes, how that happens. We always wonder, “How’s my neighbor doing?”

And Solomon says,

“We’re driven by envy.” (Ecclesiastes 4:4-6)

Do you know what struck me? What really struck me.

What is the worst thing that can happen to a man as he’s climbing the ladder?

Man: Fall off?

Richard: Fall off.

He fails. He goes through failure. And, he’s down here, and he’s up. It really struck me. That is why failure, other than the fear of dying, is man’s greatest fear is failing.

I watched a TED Talk. The author of the Harry Potter Series with J.K. Rowling. It was a great talk, and she says,

“The thing that drove me, has always driven me, is the fear of failing.”

I couldn’t believe it!

David Sokol, who was supposed to take over for Warren Buffett, but unfortunately, lost his job because he did something unethical. There was an article in the Wall Street Journal about him, and he says the thing that has always driven him is the fear of failing. There’s something about that which terrifies men. And, I think this, in part, explains it. You can’t just fall to the ground and say, “All right, I’m going to start over.” You’re always wondering what other people are thinking about you. So, it terrifies men.

Then you get to envy. Again, it means to want someone else’s life. What it means is you’re not satisfied with who you are and what you have, so you’re always looking at others. Therefore, you can see how, as we analyze this, you really do see how these three sins do intersect. They’re almost like they’re cousins. They’re related. And, most of us are not even aware that they’re there. But, let me just say this final thing about envy. Joseph Epstein, who wrote a book about envy, says,

“Learn what you envy, and you will learn who you are.”

I don’t know if you remember, I shared this when we talked about envy. There are two components to envy; it’s almost two sides to a coin. There’s a sadness to envy and there’s a joy to envy, that works in reverse. There’s a sadness, when you see other people prospering and you’re not. But, then, there’s a joy when you see those same people experience misfortune.

So, these three sins, these three vices, can poison our lives. But when you’re poison, if you ever take poison, and it doesn’t kill you, when they get you to the hospital, they will inject you with what’s called an antidote. An antidote, basically, is a medicine taken to counteract a particular poison.

This just dawned on me when I was preparing this. What I’ve been sharing with you now, up until now, is the introduction. But the antidote of these three maladies is simple.

Anybody want to guess?

Randy: Humility?

Richard: Humility is tied to this, Randy. No doubt about it. In fact, humility, you can’t get anything better than that.

Man: Gratefulness?

Richard: Gratefulness? These are all—it’s contentment, which is very Biblical, which we’re going to see. It’s finding contentment in your life.

For instance, in Mere Christianity, Lewis says this. He says,

“Pride is spiritual cancer. What pride does,” he says, “it eats up the possibility of being content.”

Now, if that’s true guys, logically thinking through this, if you can find contentment in life, it will eat up the cancer of pride. Think about it. If you were content with who you are, really content with who you are, you don’t have a need to impress anybody.

Man: I think it’s easy to do that, if you focus on what you’re grateful for.

Richard: Gratitude is clearly a part of this, and we’re going to look at how does a person become content. We’re going to really look at that next week.

Man 2: Richard.

Richard: Yeah.

Man 2: It seems to me, that contentment is the goal or the destination. It’s not necessarily the process to get there.

Richard: I would agree. I would agree. Where you want to get is where you are truly content with who you are and what you have.

Think about this as it relates to envy. R. C. Sproul, who I think is one of the great theologians of our day, says, basically, if you want to know you’re content, he says,

“One sure indicator that reveals a person who is truly content with his life,” he says, “is when this person sees his friends and peers doing well and prospering, and he truly rejoices with them, and he’s happy for them. And, on the other hand, when he sees them struggle or go through really difficult times, he feels their pain, and has great compassion for them.”

In other words, he hurts for them. In other words, what Sproul is saying is that contentment eradicates envy. You see, contentment means you are content with not only who you are, but what you have.

We said earlier, greed believes you never have enough. Greed always craves more, always desires more. Contentment says, “I am content with where I am and what I have.” That’s why in Hebrews 13:5, which we’re going to look at in a minute, says,

“Let your way of life be free from the love of money, being content with what you have.” (Hebrews 13:5)

And guys, I pray that throughout the week.

“God, give me contentment. Let me be content with what I have.” In fact, I pray the verse, “Let your way of life,” some translations say, “Let your character be free from the love of money.” Lord I pray that you would make that a reality in my life, that I would be content with what I have.

Comment? Yeah, Robert.

Robert: I might say this wrong, but you still have to have a little bit of competitive nature in you. Don’t you want to win, and drive. You say to your kids, “Have some pride, clean yourself off before you go out.”

Richard: That’s why I always like to try to distinguish when I bring up pride because I get that question. And, that’s a natural question to ask.

In fact, if you read my blog this week on the art of achieving, and growing, and developing, self-discipline and effort are such a part of that. I think, the question is, when you achieve, when you do well, it doesn’t create in you a sense of superiority, that “I’m better than you.” What it should do, and this is kind of what Randy was saying, is the proper response is to have gratitude.

“Lord, I realize that all the talent, all the ability, all the opportunities, they’re a gift from you and I am grateful for them.”

But, it’s a good question, and it’s a legitimate question.

Anybody else?

Warren: Richard.

Richard: Yeah, Warren.

Warren: One Verse that’s helpful for me on that is when we do achieve and when we do work hard, I can’t remember the Verse, but it’s “to treat it like a soldier treats it, I have just done my duty, based upon what has been given to me.” Because, I think, we all tend to think, “I’m great because I’ve done it.” Really, I’ve been given something, and I’ve achieved because of what’s been given.

Richard: Amen. Well-said. Well-said. Anybody else?

All right. I want to look at some Verses, but I want to do this a little differently. If I could do it over again, I would have scanned this and sent it to you in advance, but then I would have given away what I was talking about. Take this, and take it home with you, because I want you to really read it and study it. There’s three different Scriptures, and there’s a number of Verses, on contentment. I’m going to pass these out, and I did this so we wouldn’t have to be flipping around and looking. I want everyone to get a copy, and then I’m going to read them. I want to ask you, as we read them, how do these really apply to what’s been said so far.

Before I read, let me just say this. You’ll see the word content or contentment here. The Greek word that’s used is autarkei. What it means is to be full, to be satiated, to be satisfied. It’s not a satiation, obviously, of the body, like you eat a meal. It’s a satiation, or a satisfaction, of the soul. It leads to a peace and a tranquility in your life. Tim Keller says, I like this. He says,

“It’s a deep calm, an equilibrium.”

And, if you think about it, particularly as you get to be our age, isn’t this what everybody really yearns for and really wants, and desires? The problem is, we’re a culture that’s not finding it. In fact, I would say because of greed, pride, and envy, I think it explains why there is so much misery in this life.

Now, I want to read these Verses. They’re all laid-out here, we can just kind of look at them. As I read it, I’d ask you try to notice in these Verses, how are they pertinent to everything that’s been said this morning. And, what do we learn about contentment from these Verses? I’m going to read them, then I’m going to open it up and see what do you see in here that relates to what we’ve been talking about?

The first Verse is Hebrews 13:5,

“Let your way of life,” or, again, as some translations say, “Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have. For He Himself has said I will never desert you or forsake you.”(Hebrews 13:5)

The second is 1 Timothy 6:6-10

“But Godliness actually is a means of great gain when it’s accompanied by contentment. For we brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge men into ruin and destruction.” (1Timothy 6:6-10)

That kind of reminds me of what I shared from that Psychology Today article.

“For the love of money,” not money guys. Notice, it says, for the love of money, “is a root of all sorts of evil. And some, by longing for it, have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

And, finally, and the most important I think, which we will really look at closely the next time we meet, is Philippians 4:11-13. Paul says,

“I’m not saying this because I am in need. But I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I’ve learned,” this is crucial. “I’ve learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether I’m well-fed, or whether I’m hungry, whether I’m living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” (Phillippians 4:11-13)

What do you see here, guys? Again, I wish I had given you more time. And, so I want you to take this back because we’re going to come back to these next week.

But, anything in particular jump off the page, as it relates to pride, greed, and envy?

Richard: Yes, Dan.

Dan: The last thing you read about being content when you have plenty.

Richard: That’s a good point.

That’s part of this secret because most people think that, what we’ve been talking about is, even when you have plenty, you want more. And, he’s talking about the ability to be content, whether you’re in want, or whether you have plenty.

And, by the way, I was reading this morning a commentary on one of these Verses. This was interesting. This comes from John Newton, the slave trader who became a Christian, wrote the song Amazing Grace. There was a movie made about his life. He recognized, as you look at these Verses, where it says,

“If you have food or covering, with these you can be content.”

This was kind of interesting. He broke down the things in life, the possessions in life, into three categories. He says,

“You have the necessities,” and he was drawing from this Verse in 1 Timothy. He says, “You have necessities.” Then, he says, “You have conveniences, and then you have luxuries.” He says, “What Paul is saying is that, at a minimum, you need your necessities to be content,” which is true. It’s hard to be content if you live out on the street, or if you’re starving to death. But he says, “At a minimum, you need the necessities, and you can find contentment.”

You know, I think he’s right. I’m seeing a lot of people recognize this, because I’m talking to more and more people who are saying, “I want to downsize my life, at this point. I want to have a simpler life.” I think there’s a recognition the simpler my life is, the more content I’ll be.

Richard: Yeah, Paul.

Paul: Isn’t there, maybe it’s a fault of mine, but isn’t there contentment in the joy of competition?

Richard: Let’s go back, because this goes back to what Robert asked. There’s nothing wrong with competition. I think there is a joy in competition. I don’t know if I’d call it a contentment. But there’s no doubt that there’s something about competing that creates a joy.

Paul: So much, as long as you don’t love it.

Richard: As long as you don’t love it!

Group: (laughter)

That’s a whole different matter. And, what Lewis talks about, the competitive side, is not that it breeds joy. But what it does to you when you’re comparing, and you feel like, “I need to be better than you, I need to be superior to you,” which is our natural tendency, because of our depravity.

Richard: Anybody else?

Man: It’s funny. I don’t know if you all have seen the commercial, the Direct TV commercial, about the settlers? You know, you see this family over there, that lives out in the sticks, whatever, and they’re settling for just the necessities of life. They make fun of them.

Richard: (Laughter)
Do you all know what he’s talking about?

Man: You gotta have Direct TV!

Richard: Yeah, Randy?

Randy: As we’ve gone through today’s lesson, I keep having these images of the pictures, your idea of what things should be like.

Richard: What you want your life to be.

Randy: And, what they’re really like.

Richard: Yeah, in fact, I shared that yesterday, that very same thing. Because, the picture is the way we want life to be, and life goes well. We’re content when reality and our picture are congruent. But where our lives go crazy is when they’re not, when the picture blows up, and that’s true. That’s kind of where we’re heading, Randy. Even when the picture blows up, how do we find contentment.

Richard: Were you going to say something Jim?

Jim: I was going to say, all these things you’ve talked about were money, worldly success, athletic success. All of those things are good, in and of themselves, but they’re part of The Creation. And, we’re built to live in relationship with The Creator. And, if we want contentment, ultimately, that’s where it’s got to come from. Those other things won’t continue to work. I was thinking, we were talking about athletic. Tiger Woods, he was the best guy ever, and look where he is.

Richard: Great point. Excellent.

Man: Is it, actually, from the things that we’ve been saying, you always do that thing with God in the center, and all these spokes coming out from Him. Is it actually possible to have contentment without having God in the center?

Richard: I’ll answer that next week, but it’s pretty self-evident. No.

We’re about out of time. Let me share this, then I’ll see what you have, and it will lead us into next week. I think, when it gets right down to it, as you read these Scriptures, true contentment has nothing to do with what you have. You see, in our world, I think people believe peace and contentment are based on what you have. That I can be content in this life only if I have, in Paul’s words, “plenty.” I can’t be content if I’m in want or need. And, Paul is saying that’s not necessarily true. I think what I just shared explains the greed. I’ve got to have this if I’m truly going to be happy and content. But Paul says, “this isn’t so.” That’s why he speaks of Godly contentment, of being content in all situations, in all circumstances, which, for some people is just hard to believe. I think the crucial words, and this is where we’re going with this.

The crucial words are in Verse 12 of Philippians 4, where he says this,

“I’ve learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” (Philppians 4:12)

Now, when you say you’ve learned the secret, what he’s saying is this is not self-evident. This isn’t really obvious. This doesn’t come through common sense. This is a great spiritual truth, that we have got to figure out and discern. And, he says,

“I’ve learned the secret.”(Philppians 4:12)

And, so, what we’re going to look at is what is that secret? What has he really learned?

Man: Richard, I think about some of the professional athletes, like Deion Sanders, making millions of dollars. Access to girls in every city. He almost committed suicide.

Richard: We’re going to talk about that next week too. I mean, that’s a really good point.

Man: And, look where he is now. He professes to be a faithful servant.

Richard: I don’t know that much about Deion, but I did hear that he had become a Christian. But, we’re going to look at that. Read one of Keller’s old sermons. He asked the question, “Why”, and he used the example of Kurt Cobain. This is when the sermon was preached, he had just committed suicide, who had everything. Robin Williams. How do all of these people who have it all, why would they take their life? It makes no sense. We’ll talk about that next time.

I want to wrap this up, guys. I want to end with this thought. If pride, greed, and envy can be somewhat nullified in our lives, you can never eradicate it. But, think about the life that you can live. Think about the life you can live if you truly are content. And, we’ll look at the secret of finding contentment.

Richard E Simmons III is the founder and Executive Director of The Center for Executive Leadership and a best-selling author.


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