Jump Starts Daily

Jump Start # 3229

Jump Start # 3229

Philippians 4:11 “Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.”

  Everywhere we look it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. The radio stations play Christmas songs. The stores are lined with Christmas things. Homes are decorated. Hallmark is in full swing of Christmas movies. And, one of the traditional shows we watch every year is Rudolph the red nosed reindeer.

  Poor little Rudolph didn’t fit in. His nose glowed a bright red. The other reindeers made fun of him. Rudolph doesn’t like his red nose. He runs away. He meets an elf named Herbie who doesn’t like making toys. He’d rather be a dentist. Neither are happy with the way things are in their lives. They make their way to the sad island of misfit toys—toys that no one wants. 

  And, what a parallel we ought to see in our lives. So many are not content, as our passage describes, with their lives. People say, “I need a better job, or a larger house, or a newer car. I don’t like the look of my hair, my nose, my feet. I need to lose weight. I need something else.” Dissatisfaction is at the root of all of those statements. I’d be content, someone says, if I made more money. The lack of satisfaction breeds jealousy and envy. It makes one feel that they have been cheated and left out. Misery is what always follows dissatisfaction.

  Now, there are some things that we ought never to be satisfied with or content with.

·  Believing that sin is ok. It’s not ok, especially with God. Wrong is never right. Sin can be exciting and enticing, but it always fails as a poor substitute for what God offers.

· Status Quo: just doing what everyone else is doing ought never be the standard. Be diligent, press onward, take pains with these things, be absorbed in them are Biblical expressions about doing all that we can. Our measure is not what the average person does. It’s not even what the typical member does. We must do all that we can, being the best that we are capable of being.

· Excuses: these are offered to justify not doing what one ought to be doing. An excuse is a pass that allows us to not attend, not be righteous, not be diligent. Life may be hard, but God expects us to do what we can.

There are four common misunderstandings about contentment:

First, some believe that contentment is found in external things. If I could only get away…If I could only have…and what is misunderstood is that contentment comes from within the heart of a person. External things may put a smile on our face for a short while, but it never lasts. Jesus said that life does not consist of possessions (Lk 12:15). Our times has the largest homes, most gadgets, conveniences and choices than any other generation. You’d think that this would be the most thankful and content people. But, that’s not what we find. Listen to how your co-workers talk. Look at what you see in stores. We brought nothing into this world when we were born. We didn’t even come with any clothes. No name. No possessions. And, when we leave this world, we’ll be put in a box and placed in the ground. Our enemy is not possessions, it’s the inability to be satisfied.

Second, some believe that less is better than more. Minimalism is the belief that purging your life of things will bring freedom, joy and happiness. Less is better than more. That’s the idea. Wrapped around this thinking is the subject of things. It is the belief that fewer things brings more happiness. But once again, it is placing an internal subject, contentment, on external things, stuff. Less stuff, better off. A poor person with very little can have the love of money and not be content. It’s not about what you have, but what has you. We wouldn’t say less education is better than more. Less health is better than more. Less people in church is better than more. Freedom comes from do you own things or do those things own you.

  Third, belief that contentment is off in the future somewhere. Have you ever heard of a content college student? He is unsettled. He needs to finish his degree. He needs to get a good job. He needs to find a place to live. He needs to meet someone and get married. Then, and only, then, he can begin to be content. It is assumed that the retired person is the most content person because they don’t have the worries and hassles of works, schedules, traffic and raising a young family. And, it is believed, as long as bills hang over your head, you can’t be content. With this reasoning, someone who takes out a thirty year mortgage is declaring that he can’t be content for the next thirty years.

  The flavor of the N.T. writers is that contentment was a present condition of the heart. It wasn’t out there somewhere in the future. It was something in the present tense. Paul, writing from a Roman jail, could express his contentment.

  Fourth, there is a misconception that contentment means not wanting anything more. Yet, the apostle who declared that he learned the secret of contentment, wanted to go to Spain (Rom 15). He also wanted his books (2 Tim 4). He wanted the thorn in the flesh to leave him (2 Cor 12). Contentment does not mean you do not improve yourself nor have any dreams, goals or ambition. A person will never change unless he is motivated to do so.

We have shown several things that contentment is not. Hopefully, tomorrow, I will continue with this and detail what contentment means. We ought to pray for a content heart.