It is good to be content … with friends

Based on: Philippians 4:10-20

First, I need to explain the theme printed in the bulletin, “It is good to be content . . . with friends.”  I do not mean to say that with you need to be content with the friends you have even if they are a little less than desirable.  No, what I mean is that we can be content no matter what we have and while we are content God gives us our fellow Christians with whom we can enjoy our contentedness. 

This Thanksgiving, as we talk about being content, it brings to mind some people who are not content.  Perhaps you have seen in the news some of the business executives who have been criticized for getting paid millions of dollars a year while the companies they manage are going bankrupt.

Sometimes I find myself thinking, “Why does anyone need that much money?  I could be very happy with only $1 million a year, perhaps even less.”  Do you ever find yourself thinking the same thing?  If so, those are seeds of discontent.  It happens to us more than we realize.  How often do we want something that God has not given us?  To be discontent is sin, plain and simple.

It shouldn’t surprise us that we are this way.  We inherit our discontent from our first parents.  Satan told Adam and Eve they would be more like God if they ate the fruit and suddenly they were not content with the way God made them.  They wanted more. 

You see this inherited discontentment even in little children.  Put two toddlers in a room with one toy and usually neither is content to see the other have the toy.  This discontent doesn’t go away when we get older.  Whether in small ways or big ways there is discontent in all of us.  It is part of our sinful nature.

But being discontent is not a pleasant way to live.  To be discontent is to be unhappy and I don’t want to be this way.

Here the Apostle Paul says, “I have a secret.”  “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”

What is the secret to being content? The secret to being satisfied with whatever situation your are in? “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”  The secret to being content is knowing that the strength to be content comes from Jesus Christ, not from within me.

The way we become content is by knowing Jesus was content for us, by knowing he was content even as he said about himself, “the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”  We become content by knowing he was content even to suffer for our discontent, and by knowing that by grace Jesus has given us eternal life.

Now we can be content.  By giving us eternal life Christ has given us everything worth having.  As we live our lives content with the things God gives us we can enjoy that contentment with friends, with other people who share that same contentment.  After all, God often works through others to supply us with all we need.

We see a wonderful example in the Philippian Christians to whom Paul is writing.  Paul says of them, “When I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need.” 

Isn’t that what we do as Christians?  Knowing that God has given us eternal life and will supply us with all we need and more, we are free to help others with the gifts God has given us.  Like stone soup, as we share our blessings, there is more than enough to go around.

This help we give one another is our “thanksgiving” to God.  It is a sign that God’s Word is at work among us and God considers it a fragrant offering, an acceptable and pleasing sacrifice.

This Thanksgiving you can truly thank God for all you have.  You can be content, because, as Paul says, “my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

Amen.

 

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