This evening we are going to look at The Secret of Contentment. Paul says in verse 11 that he's learned to be content in whatever state he's in. He says in verse 12 whether rich or poor, whether abased or abounding, he's content.
Now when Paul talks about contentment, he's not talking about complacency. Some people use this verse as an excuse for being spiritually complacent. "Well, I know I could do more for the Lord, but I'm just content with the state I'm in."
No. Contentment is not complacency. Paul already said in chapter 3, "Don't count yourself to have already apprehended, but instead press toward the mark for the prize of high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
James McIntosh put like this: "It is right to be contented with what we have, never with what we are."
Paul's not talking about spiritual complacency or lack of ambition-to be more like Christ. Instead he's talking about being content with what God has given you in life.
You see the opposite of contentment is coveting. I'm proud to be an American and celebrate our freedoms this July 4th. As Americans we should be some of the most content people who have ever lived-we have so much.
But instead we are conditioned to covet. Millions of dollars are being spent as we speak to make you discontent. I was a business minor in college. And in Marketing 101 that's what they teach you-the goal of salesmen is to make you discontent, to make you think you need their product.
And so we are bombarded with messages on every street, every billboard, ever TV show, every web page, on your smart phone-messages tailored specifically to you-trying to get you to be discontent with the car you drive, the clothes you wear, the house you own.
I see this play out almost every day with my two and three year old daughters. They can be playing in the loft, perfectly content. And all it takes is for one of them to pick up a toy and say "Look what I have." And then it all breaks loose. The other sister is crying "I want that toy."
And I'm saying "Honey, you haven't played with that toy in a year-that's half your life. You forgot it even existed until 30 seconds ago." But now she has to have it. Why? Covetousness.
That's what marketers do-you get the Best Buy ad Sunday afternoon, they're holding up a toy you didn't even know existed 30 seconds ago, but now you've got to have it.
You see the big fallacy that so many of us buy into is to believe that contentment is found in money or power or possessions or fame or relationships or health.