This Week’s Sermon Will Be on Contentment

Posts in the Sermon Prep: Contentment series

  1. This Week’s Sermon Will Be on Contentment
  2. Contentment and Gratitude
  3. Paul’s Writings on Contentment
  4. Solomon vs. Paul: gratitude, simplicity, the present, and meaning
  5. The Secret of Contentment

Well kids, it’s time once again for Doug to take his bi-monthly vacation (this time I think he’s going BASE jumping in the West Andes) and that means I need to come up with something to preach on. In fine Addison Road tradition, you all, of course, will be doing the actual work for me.

I have a theme. Contentment.

I have a premise (two, actually). First, that being discontent is a malicious mindset that robs our lives of both joy and peace. The destructive power of discontentment is underestimated by many. Second, contentment is the fruit of gratitude, and gratitude is a function of humility.

My primary text is going to be Philippians, and I’m using it as a lens to look back at Ecclesiastes (has any better text on contentment ever been written? Sheesh!).

So … hit it! Give me everything you’ve got on contentment. I won’t be satisfied until I have all of your ideas!

Next in series: Contentment and Gratitude

21 thoughts on “This Week’s Sermon Will Be on Contentment

  1. the ben

    is discontent necessarily so malicious? perhaps not something to latch on to, but at times a useful litmus test for issues that require attention….

    just thinking out loud, please disregard until after i read Epictetus again.

  2. aly hawkins

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot in the past year. I agree with your premises if you’re talking about contentment with one’s circumstances. In fact, I think that if we practice gratefulness (which leads to humility), we regain the ability to be delighted and surprised by our blessings. It’s very hard to be jaded and cynical when you’re startled by how beautiful the world is.

    On the other hand, I think a certain amount of discontent with oneself is a necessary precursor to change. I’m not talking about wallowing in self-loathing or anything (just try to be surprised by beauty in that state of mind); I’m talking about a recognition that my character flaws play a part in the state of my relationships. If I want those to be the best they can be, I can’t rest on my laurels, content to let other people change to suit me.

  3. michael lee Post author

    I’m talking about the discontentment of Solomon, who was unable to enjoy the good things God had given him because he was unable to find contentment in them. In fact, this was the first part of the message that I wrote:

    There are things about which we ought to be discontent – as people of faith, we are ambassadors of a better way, and we ought to be discontent with the brokenness of this world.

    If your neighbor is in need, his children are going without food, there is no virtue in your contentment – you ought to be discontent with his poverty.

    If you fall, repeatedly, into the same sinful traps, and find yourself again, falling down drunk at 3 am, or embroiled in gossip, or selfish yet again in the face of need, there is no virtue in throwing up your hands and saying, “I am content.” You ought to be discontent with that endemic, relentless sin.

    That’s not the kind of discontentment we’re talking about here. We are talking about the discontent of Solomon – the inability to rest in good things, the inability to enjoy God’s blessings. We’re talking about the discontent heart that robs you of joy. That steals away your peace. That turns the gifts of God to ashes in your mouth, and turns your heart to anger.

  4. the ben

    ok guys, you almost sucked me into this whole “bible and philosophy and mike writes a sermon” bit. that’s great but when are we playing cards. i’m just saying…

  5. Dave

    content–The Greek, literally expresses “independent of others, and having sufficiency in one’s self.” But Christianity has raised the term above the haughty self-sufficiency of the heathen Stoic to the contentment of the Christian, whose sufficiency is not in self, but in God
    To come into relationship with God and be satisfied with the path that you travel together.(?)

  6. Leonard

    Phil. 4:13 is the key. When Christ is the well of strength contentment reigns. That is why Paul could say he learned the secret. he did not draw his strength from his circumstances, his abundance, his successes… His weaknesses, his want did not deplete his strength either. His strength came from a much deeper, unchanging well, Jesus Christ.

    Philippians tone is evedence of the well from which Paul drew. It’s message is about that well and the resulting JOY is the fruit of drawing from that well. Have fun Michael.

  7. michael lee Post author

    Leonard, there’s one thing I’ll add to that, which is that gratitude places us in proper mental relationship to Chris, and allows us to receive that contentment.

    In that whole passage, it’s the “in plenty” that catches me up short. I like Paul’s insinuation that there is a secret to being content in the midst of abundance, and that contentment is not the natural fruit of having plenty.

  8. michael lee Post author

    You better, or he will shoot lazer beams out of his eyes, and your body will be consumed in a raging fire of metal guitar riffs. He’s that awesome.

  9. Ryan

    And even in the midst of my body being consumed in the raging fire… I shall be content. I hope this illustration makes your sermon cut.

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