content 2
content 2

A Life of Contentment – Part 2

Last week we looked at three deadly sins that can wreak havoc in our lives and they can suck the joy out of our very existence, and those three sins were pride, and greed, and envy. We took a good hard look at each of those and we looked at the reasons, how they can do such great damage in our lives. And we talked about the fact that there was really an antidote in dealing with these three deadly sins, and that antidote was contentment. We looked at these verses, and we’ll come back to them in just a minute, but, when we closed our meeting last week, we said a real key verse was Philippians 4:12, where Paul says,

“I’ve learned the secret of being content.” (Philippians 4:12)

And as we said, when we say, “I’ve learned the secret”, he’s talking about something that’s not self-evident. It’s not where most people would look. And so, what we want to do this morning is to try to figure out what is it that Paul had learned.

Now, before we get there, I want to make a few comments. There was a very famous prominent American author, his name was John Cheever, he won a Pulitzer Prize for literature, and he made a comment years ago about the adult American. He said this,

“The main emotion of the adult American who has had all the advantages of wealth, education, and culture, is disappointment and discontentment.”

Now, because of the work that I do, I have a real unique opportunity, I feel like, to look into men’s lives, and I’ll say this, I think Cheever is right. In fact, I was just reading earlier this week, in Matthew, where he talks about the harvest, and I read something that really, it just struck me for the first time, even though I’ve read this many, many times. And, so, if you would turn to Matthew 9 real quickly, we’ll look at two verses. Matthew 9:35 and 36. Sonny Culp, would you read those for us?

Sonny: “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, teaching the good news of the Kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness. When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:35-36)

What strikes me about this is Jesus was going to all these different cities, and He was teaching, and the one common thing that seems to have been true of all the people, is He has compassion, He looks at them, and He says, “They’re like sheep without a shepherd.” Let me read to you what it says in the Amplified because I think it really hits the mark, he says,

“Jesus was moved with pity and sympathy for them because they were bewildered, distressed, dejected, and helpless, like a sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:35-36)

Bewildered. It strikes me that this is an issue with all people dealing with life, and I think this issue of disappointment and discontentment is particularly true for men, particularly as we move into mid-life. You know, you think back to when you were young, and you were just getting started, and I think young men are more, they’re full of hope about the future, and they think they’ve got life figured out. You know, I’m going to go out and get a great job, I’m going to make a lot of money, I’m going to marry the woman of my dreams, we’re going to have perfect kids, and I’m going to live the American dream.

Then you fast-forward ten or fifteen years, and you begin to realize, my life has not turned out the way I thought it would. Work is a lot harder than I thought. Marriage is more difficult than I anticipated. And raising kids in this culture is very tough. This is what I’ve noticed, and this is really interesting, guys. This disappointment, this discontentment comes from every end of the spectrum.

It starts over here with men who’ve really been beaten up by life, basically, they’ve been chewed up, or been crushed by their circumstances, and maybe you’ve been there, maybe you’ve experienced that.

And, then you have those who’ve done okay with their lives, but maybe they never had the great success they dreamed of having when they were young. And they’re kind of in the middle of the spectrum.

And, then you have those whose lives have turned out just the way they had dreamed and hoped for. They’ve achieved their dreams; sometimes they’ve exceeded their dreams. And yet, all of these people experience discontentment. But these guys over here, who on this end of the spectrum who have gotten everything they wanted, who have exceeded their dreams and expectations, they experience a different type of discontentment, and it comes from the realization that what I’ve always dreamed of doesn’t satisfy me the way I thought it would.

What they have concluded from all their work and their research and their study is that people have no idea what will lead to their ultimate well-being. Now, they think they know. They think if I can reach my dreams if I can reach a certain level of income if I can live a certain…we think we know what we want, we think we know what will lead to contentment, but, he says, this is what they concluded.

“We overestimate the actual intensity and duration of our emotional experiences when we get the things we’ve longed for.”

I’m going to say it twice. ”

We overestimate the actual intensity and duration of our emotional experiences when we get the things we’ve longed for.”

And then they said this, what we desire seems to bear little relation to that which will, in the end, actually fulfill us. And I think that’s true. This is the only problem. They’ve made this observation, but they don’t come up with a solution. They just give an explanation for discontentment. You see, the discontentment that comes when you got everything you ever wanted and dreamed of is quite different; in fact, it can be quite frightening, because it begins to dawn on you if this doesn’t satisfy me, what will?

I don’t know if I’ve ever read this to you, but it comes from one of Tim Keller’s books, and it’s a fairly, it’s an older article, and I read it in one of his older sermons, and it’s in a couple of his books. It was an article in a magazine called The Village Voice. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that. It’s a very popular magazine that features current affairs, and culture and arts, and culture, and music, in New York City. And Cynthia Heimel wrote about people that she knew who were trying to make it big as actors and actresses on Broadway. And she says it was a struggle for so many of them performing at auditions while holding down menial jobs. They truly believed if they could only make it on the stage, then they would be whole and complete. They would be fulfilled. She said they were like so many New Yorkers, they were always stressed, they were driven, always tired, but when they finally made it and became famous, she said they became very difficult people. She says,

“Not only did they become difficult, they became unstable.”

Those were her words. Heimel observed that they didn’t become arrogant as you might expect, but they became much more unhappy and discontented than they used to be when they were trying to make it to the top. She said, these are her words, she said,

“I pity celebrities, I really do; they were once perfectly pleasant human beings, but now their wrath is awful. More than any of us, they wanted fame. They worked, they pushed, and then the morning after, after each of them had become famous, they wanted to take an overdose, because that giant thing they were striving for, that fame thing that was going to make everything okay, that was going to make their lives bearable, that was going to provide them with personal fulfillment and happiness, had happened. And nothing had changed. They still were them. The disillusionment turned them howling and made them insufferable.” And Heimel goes on, and she says, “I really feel sorry for these people, and then she made this incredible statement, she said, “You know, I think when God wants to play a really rotten practical joke on you, He grants you your deepest wishes.”

You know, Tim Keller tells of a conversation that he had with his son. This is a number of years ago because his kids are grown now. I think when he was a teenager, and they were talking about, his son was talking to him about the suicide of Kurt Cobain, who was the lead singer for Nirvana. I don’t know if any of you are big Nirvana fans, or were Nirvana fans, but, he had it made, he had all the wealth, he had all the fame, he had everything you would think a person would want, then he took his life.

I don’t know if you remember, but I shared this at the last breakfast, back in the fall, when Bill Clinton was asked about his death on MTV when he was interviewed. And he was asked by a young girl what he thought about the death of Kurt Cobain, because these young people, they were baffled by it. How could someone who had so much going for him, take their lives?

So, Keller has this conversation with his son, and he and his son both concluded that there are two types of suicide, and we had a very interesting conversation about this yesterday, that most people don’t realize this I don’t think, that, I can’t remember, it’s 8 out of 10, I think, I researched this when I was writing The True Measure of a Man, either it’s 8 or 9 out of 10 suicides are men. Isn’t that interesting? But Keller and his son concluded that there are two types of suicide. You have those who realize that they’ll never hit their dream, and they feel hopeless, they feel despair, and that’s on one end of the spectrum over here. But they said it’s amazing how many people either take or contemplate suicide down here, those who realized their dream, they achieved everything they ever hoped for and it leaves them feeling empty. And so that’s the other end of the spectrum.

And that’s what people in this life struggle with. It doesn’t matter which end of the spectrum you’re on. That’s why I think this is such a huge issue that was raised on the Scripture we read last week on finding contentment in life. Because this is something people really want. Really yearn for, and yet, just aren’t finding it.

Richard: Let me stop here and see if you have any comments or questions. Anybody?

(Inaudible comment from audience 15:12)

RS: Yes, we’re all searching, and, as these guys that I quoted, the psychologists, they’re saying, we think they’re things out there, but once we get them, they don’t provide what we thought they would. And, basically I guess you get to the point where everything has gone your way, and every time you achieve or whatever, it doesn’t truly satisfy you or give you contentment, you end up over here saying, if this doesn’t do it, what will?

Audience member comment: (inaudible 16:00)…the reason why we have the escalation in the addiction…(inaudible 16:05)

RS: I couldn’t agree more. In fact, a year ago when I talked on pain and suffering, that’s the thing they concluded, the reason people are so heavily into alcohol and drugs is for this very reason. They’re not finding happiness in life is what they concluded. What else? Anybody else?

(Inaudible comment from audience 16:27)

RS: We talked about that last week, Greg, we did. We went through and talked about the Greek word, which means, to be full, to be satiated, to be satisfied, that’s what the literal Greek word means. I think, and it’s not talking about satiate the body, it’s talking about the soul, and we talked about different ways people define it, like Keller calls it to have a real calm, and equilibrium in your life, to have a tranquility, to have a peace. Some would call it, again, from the literal definition, a sense of satisfaction. Anybody else?

Audience member: I have a question Richard. In a lot of our jobs around here, when, if we become content, or even in our relationship with God, then we’re almost going backwards at times.

RS: I understand what you’re saying. Anybody want to comment on that? I think we should recognize we should never be, I don’t think we are, but I don’t think we’ll ever be satisfied with where we are in the sanctification process, which is the process of becoming more and more like Christ.

(Break in the recording at 18:00)

RS: …grown, spiritually, we can always, you know we talked about the three things in life, that the Bible identifies as having great value and worth, one, and we’re going to talk about it in a minute, our relationship with God, our wisdom, our character, really four things, and our ability to love and have great relationships. You know, all those things can grow over time. You never peak, and, of course, some people think that about money and wealth, we said that last week, some people think I can never have enough, and we talked about where that leads…(Break in the recording at 18:38)…the spiritual realm, that you really can never get to the point where you think, I’ve arrived, I’m as Godly as I’ll ever be. I’m as wise as I’ll ever be; I’ve got as good and as deep relationships as I’ll ever (Break in the recording at 18:50)… I don’t think we’ll ever get to that point, but point well-taken. Yes, Steve?

(Inaudible comment 18:59)

RS: Jimmy, and then Steve.

Jimmy: I think what Skip’s talking about is, what he’s talking about is contentment and saying I’ve got everything I need and I don’t need to do anything else. I think you can be content and that’s an attitude of the heart that you can still be striving and working hard but you’re content with whatever your outcome is.

RS: Good, good. Yes, Steve?

Steve: I think part of it is the fact that we’re trying to learn how to deal with discontentment, not so much as…(inaudible 19:28)…to be contented, but you’re never really contented, but we do need to learn how to deal with discontentment…(inaudible 19:36)…

RS: Good, good. I agree.

Audience member comment: You know, it all really boils down to what C.S. Lewis says when he talks about trying to put the wrong kind of fuel in an automobile engine. God created us for Himself and we’re trying to put everything but Him in.

RS: That’s it, right on. All right, let’s go back to scripture, the scripture sheet. Everybody got the sheet here? I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to really think through or look at this, but I just want to kind of stop and open this up to see if you have any thoughts. (Break in recording at 20:12)

RS: When Paul says, I’ve learned the secret of being content, the big question is this. What did Paul learn? Any thoughts? I don’t think it’s just one simple thing he learned, I think it’s a combination of things that you see throughout what he’s written in his letters, but what do you think he learned?

Audience member comment: Romans 8:28 (Inaudible comments 20:43)

RS: That God causes all things to work together for good. Hold that thought Jimmy. What were you going to say, Jimbo?

Jimbo: His contentment was not based on his circumstances.

RS: That’s it. In fact, that’s the first thing that I wrote down is that Paul had learned that contentment is not found in your possessions, or in your circumstances, because, what does he say here? If you have food and covering, you can find contentment in this life. He says you can find contentment whether you’re in plenty or whether you’re in want. And where did he write the book of Philippians? He was in prison. Can you think of any worse circumstances? To be in prison, never knowing when you were going to get out? The prisons back then weren’t like the prisons today. And yet, though he sat in that prison, he was content. So that is clearly one of the first things that he had learned.

RS: Anything else? Jim.

Jim: I take comfort in the last sentence when he said I can do everything through Him who gives me strength. It’s God’s work, not mine, I can’t do it by willpower, or determination, or self-sacrifice, or you-name-it.

RS: Yep. In fact, I’m going to talk about that in just a minute, Jim, I think that, I mean obviously God is key. We can’t truly find Godly contentment apart from Him. Anything else?

Audience member comment: I think one of the greatest fears that mankind has, that is discontented about it is what’s going to happen to me when I die.

RS: Aha.

(Inaudible audience comments 22:37) …his relationship with Christ, what’s going to happen when he dies?

RS: That’s that last thing we’ll look at, and Gary’s right. Yes, Paul?

Paul: So I start to ask the question, is contentment possible, and what leads me to ask that question is even in our lives, and our relationship with God, we sin daily, and we can’t be satisfied with that, and in our lives outside of our relationship with God, there’s always something left to do.

Yeah, I don’t think, it’s kind of like everything in life, nobody ever, to find the true contentment that God would have for us, you have to be completely Christ-like, and nobody gets there, so, I don’t know that anyone is ever completely fully content but I do think that there is, we do have the ability to experience levels of contentment as we go through this life, and I think…(break in recording at 23:46)… what we’re going to talk about, really contribute to that. I think it does start with recognition. This is hard for us because we are wired in such a way that we believe that, you know we talked about having our picture the way we want life to be, you know we’re content as long as reality is in conformity with the way I want things to be, but then, we always experience these great gaps in the way we want life to be, and reality, and that’s when we hook to a crazy train. Jim, were you going to say something?

Jim: I was just going to say, what Paul just said …(inaudible comments 24:29)….sin is incredibly serious because the Second Person of the Trinity had to come down and die on the cross to save us from it.

And the good news is the Third Person of the Trinity came and now lives within us, and that’s the good news, but you’re right. I think that when we get through this, I think we’ll realize and see that there are certain keys to experience a degree of contentment in life and to be content, and let me move to the second one, and then I’ll stop and see what you have. (Break in the recording at 25:05)…things we’re going to look at, and the first is what we just said, because we’re not wired this way, we begin to think, I’ve got to have good circumstances, I’ve got to have certain possessions if I’m going to be content, and Paul is saying, you’ve got to learn that’s not true. You can have very little and live a wonderful life and be totally content. The second thing Paul knew is he knew the Old Testament real well. He was a scholar when it came to the Old Testament because he was a Pharisee. He knew Jeremiah 29:11. What does Jeremiah 29:11 say?

“I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not calamity, I want to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Paul. Or Jimmy, or Skip, whatever. Another verse in the Old Testament I know that he was aware of was Isaiah 25:1. It says,

“O Lord, you are my God, I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name, for You have worked wonders, plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.” (Isaiah 25:1)

You see Paul lived, guys, with a sense of mission, and calling, and he understood and believed in God’s good and sovereign hand in his life and in his circumstances. Romans 8:28. In fact, we need to turn to the book of Philippians, because that’s where these key verses come from and we’re going to look at several verses out of Philippians so if you would turn to Philippians and we’ll go to Chapter 1. As we think about what I just said, that Paul lived with a sense of mission and calling and he understood and believed in God’s good and sovereign hand in his life and in his circumstances, look what he says in Philippians 1 verses 12 through 14. Greg Pyburn, you want to read those for us?

Greg: “I want you to know, beloved, that what has happened to me has actually helped to spread the Gospel so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to everyone else that my imprisonment is for Christ; and most of the brothers and sisters, having been made confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, dare to speak the word with greater boldness and without fear.” (Philippians 1:12-14)

You know one of the things you realize, Paul is sitting here in prison, and you don’t see him complaining about his circumstances. You don’t see him saying, God if you could only get me out of this prison, I could go into the streets of Rome, I could go into Athens, I can go into all these pagan places and take the Gospel. But you don’t see that. What you see in this letter, and in the other letters is, you know, God is using me to share the Gospel here in prison. I mean, he was leading some of the people that were guarding him to Christ. And then he says, my circumstances have impacted other people, and have encouraged them, and not only encouraged them but given them the courage to go out and spread the Gospel. You see, Paul, guys, was content in prison, because, at that moment, he believed that the good hand of God had him there for a reason. And if that’s where God wanted him at that particular point in time, he was going to be content. Let me say this, he was content.

Now, I know most of you have heard this story, but some of you probably haven’t, but it’s worth it to share it again anyway because it’s a picture of contentment and how our lives should be. It was over twenty years ago. I was in New York and I was going to a meeting and I get into a taxicab, and, just to kind of give you an idea, I’m sitting here, and the taxi driver is up front here, and we’re headed this way. And I remember, he was a little short guy, had thick glasses, very friendly, didn’t say much, and he was a foreigner. And, I’m sitting in the back of the taxi, and right in front of me, I’m looking at the backrest of the front seat, and I can’t remember, it was either yellow or orange, it was very bright, you couldn’t miss it. It was a bumper sticker, and the bumper sticker said, Jews for Jesus. That’s all it said. Now, I don’t know if you know that organization, it’s a national organization, and it’s for those who, it’s predominately Jewish people who’ve become Christians.

Who’s recognized that Jesus was their Messiah, and I knew the organization, I was familiar with it, and, as I sat there, I realized that this bumper sticker was strategically placed for the person in the back seat to see it. Now, I was sure that he wanted me to ask him about it, so I did. I said tell me about your bumper sticker, Jews for Jesus. Well, guys, it was like I had flipped a switch. He was ready. And he begins to tell me his story, and I’m listening, and it’s fascinating. As we’re driving down 5th Avenue, it dawned on me, this guy is trying to evangelize me. And so I let him keep going, and then finally, I said listen – we’re almost at my destination – I said, look, we’re on the same team, I’m a Christian. And he loved hearing that, we chatted a couple more minutes, we finally get to my destination, I’m getting my wallet out to pay him, and he said something I’ve never forgotten. He says,

“You know, God has blessed me. He has called me,” those were his words, “I know he said, “God has called me to drive a cab in New York City, and every day I get to drive people, I get to serve people, by driving them to their destinations. Every single day, I have the opportunity to share the good news of Christ.”

He says I am a blessed man.

Now, here’s the picture of a guy, a person, who did not see driving a taxi as a drab old job, as I’m sure most taxi drivers do. He saw it, guys, as a divine calling. He was serving other people, but most significantly, he saw his job as a platform to point people to Christ. Now what’s so incredible, is his life, I’m sure, has touched many people over the years. But I know this, it’s touched my life, and I have shared his story with literally hundreds and hundreds of people. And the great thing is, he doesn’t even know about it, but he’ll find out one day, that his life was used in the lives of so many people. The big question is, do we see our lives that way? You know, it’s almost like we have to reorient our thinking as we look at what we’re doing with our lives.

RS: Let me stop here, comments, questions, anybody.

(Inaudible comment / question 33:33)

RS: Amen.

Audience member comment: I also think that in our society that we can believe that the knowledge and information that we have or have access to elevates us to believe that we know better how to operate our lives than God.

RS: Yes, I think that’s one of the real, that’s one of our great, it’s one of the great lies that we believe, that we know better than God. That’s what happened in the Garden. We know what’s better. He wants to withhold. God doesn’t know what’s best. He doesn’t want what’s best. Anybody else?

RS: We’ve to kind of press on here. Everybody still in Philippians? Chapter 3, and look at verse 8. This is reason number three. This is one of my favorite verses, ya’ll are all familiar with it because we read it all the time. Hamp, you want to read that?

Hamp: “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:8)

You know, Paul says this in kind of, a little unusual way, but just, what he’s really saying is I was once a wealthy Pharisee. You know, Pharisees were wealthy, I don’t know if you knew that, but they were very wealthy. And in that culture, to be a Pharisee was to be at the top rung. And Paul, basically, all he had to do to maintain his wonderful life and lifestyle, was to stay Jewish. But when he became a Christian, he lost it all.

He said,

“I’ve lost it all, I’ve lost everything, he says, and I count it to be rubbish.”

You know what that word rubbish really means, don’t you? It’s the word for excrement, it’s basically crap. That’s what he says, I count it all to be worthless, in comparison to knowing Jesus. Having a relationship with Him. It’s the most valuable thing in life. He says it in another way in 2Corinthians 6:10. He says,

“I’ve experienced a lot of sorrow in life, yet I’m always rejoicing, I’m a poor man,” then he says, “but I make many people rich. And then he says, I love this, “I have nothing, yet I possess all things.” (2Corinthinans 6:10)

You see, he’s saying that you think about it, people will tell you, that if you’re going to be content in this life, that you’re going to have to be rich. Do you know what Paul would say? You’re absolutely correct, but you need to have the right kind of wealth. You need to have the true riches in life. What he’s saying is I’m a wealthy man in the things that matter.

You know, Philip Yancey believes that we all, and the Bible is very clear about this, that we all have a deep thirst in our souls that only Christ can satisfy. And so, therefore, he says,

“Whenever I encounter a person who is down and out, whether they’re a drunk on the street, a drug addict, a prostitute, whomever,” he says, “instead of looking at them and degrading them, he says, I see a person that’s thirsting for God.”

But I think that’s also true of the person who is seeking wealth, fame, and power. And this is what explains what we talked about earlier. People who achieve their dreams and get everything they want, they end up empty, because they’re trying to quench the deep thirst in their souls with all the things of this world and it doesn’t work. It can’t work, and Paul had learned this. He learned that Jesus is the one that offers living water that quenches that deep thirst in our souls.

You know, in John 6:63, Jesus says,

“It’s the spirit that gives life, the flesh profiteth nothing.” (John 6:63)

And then he says, in John 6:35, He says,

“I’m the bread of life.” “I’m the bread of life. He who comes to Me will never hunger and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” (John 6:35)

Remember when Greg was asking the question of what is contentment? Remember we said last week, the literal translation was to be full, to be satiated, to be satisfied, but he’s not referring to our bodies, He’s referring to our souls. Paul had learned that. The question is, have we learned that? What true wealth is, because of the wealth that God offers, the living water that He offers, that’s what it’s all about, and that’s the kind of wealth we need to be content. That’s why I think Paul says, I can do all things through Him who enables me to do that.

Comment or question?

(Inaudible question 39:55)

John 6: 63. All right, the final, what did we say, Paul said contentment is not found in possessions, things, or circumstances. He’d learned that God is sovereign over all of life and that he can rest in his circumstances, whether he’s in prison or not. He learned what true wealth is and the final part of the secret that Paul had learned has to do with what Gary brought up a minute ago. The nature of our mortality and the ability to deal with it.

Armand Nicholi, who many of you are familiar with, clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, has observed that the process of coming to terms with your mortality is very difficult and very painful. He says,

“The unbelievable brevity of our lives conflicts with our deep-seated yearning for permanence and with our lifelong fear of being separated from those we love.” He says, “It’s a fear that haunts us from infancy to old age.”

If this haunts a person, then how can you be content? You know what Keller says about contentment,

It’s a “deep calm, it’s a peace, it’s an equilibrium.”

And, I think guys, that you can’t truly be content if you are unsettled about dying. Go back to Philippians 1. I think we read this back in the fall, but we’ll look at it real quickly again. Philippians 1:21-23. Skip, you want to read those?

Skip: “Because for me living serves Christ, and dying is even better. If I continue to live in this world, I get results from my work. But I don’t know what I prefer. I’m torn between the two because I want to leave this life and be with Christ, which is far better.” (Philippians 1:21-23)

Now, you see what Paul is saying, I’m torn, I’m ready to go, but to stay here means fruitful labor for me, but, I’m torn. And, a guy shared yesterday morning, he lived across the street from that young man, Sid Ortis, and he said,

“You know,” Sid told his parents at one point, “you know, I’m going to win either way. Whether I beat this cancer, that’ll be great, but if I die, that’ll be great too. I’m going to be with the Lord.”

The reason I think death is such a solitary experience for people when they think about it when they really think about it. It’s such a solitary experience unless you have someone to walk through it with you. And what God has told us is that I will walk with you through the valley of the shadow of death, and you know what, guys, I don’t know of your own thoughts of your own death and dying, I don’t know how often you think about it, but what I’ve been told, and what I’ve experienced in my own life, is that the older you get, the more you think about it. But, think about this, how different would your life be if you were completely delivered from the fear of death? Or, more significantly, if we had Paul’s attitude, how would that change the life you are living right now?

I think this is the final component of a life of Godly contentment. I think that was a key that Paul had. He didn’t just have peace, he was ready. He was looking forward to it. C.S. Lewis experienced that. He told his brother Warren a week before he died,

“You know,” he said, “I’ve done everything God has called me to do, and I’m ready to go,” and his brother said, “You know, I’ve never seen someone that has such a peace about death.”

So, it can be a reality in our lives. Comment or question?

I want to close by looking at one final scripture before we close. We’re almost done. Turn to Matthew 13, if you would. All right, this is the shortest parable in the Bible. Drew Scott, do you want to read it for us, Matthew 13:45 and 46.

Drew: “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:45-46)

That’s it. Two verses. Two verse parable.

Years ago, I read, when reading a book the author was talking about contentment, and he looked at this parable, and he made a comment, the guy’s name was David Henderson, he said this, these are his words,

“From Jesus’ words, we learn that what He offers to people can be compared to a really expensive pearl. When people see it and how special it is, they run off and sell everything they have to buy it. Why? Because that’s what a new and right relationship with God is worth. Everything.”

Now listen carefully to this last part, and think about it based on everything we’ve talked about in this session. In this parable, Jesus is saying, I’m what your heart is longing for, but the cost is great. Surrender your life to Me, He’s saying. Set aside all those otherworldly things you go dashing after and put Me first. He says because when you do, you will suddenly find you have everything you’ve been looking for in life. And I think what He’s saying is this is the key to contentment, putting Christ first. Everything else is secondary.

RS: Okay, any final comments?

Audience member comment: …the quote from Augustine, he says the heart will never find rest until we rest in Him.

RS: God, You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts will not find rest until they rest in Thee.

That’s one of the great quotes of all time.

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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