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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Sermon Lessons: Contentment

 5"You're blessed when you're content with just who you are—no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought."
(Matthew 5:5)

13-16Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here's what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It's the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn't wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn't wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn't wisdom. It's the furthest thing from wisdom—it's animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you're trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others' throats.
(James 3:13-16)

Contentment is a lost art!  We live in a world of discontent.  We cannot balance our national or state budget because we cannot come to agreement on how to do it.   We find fault with our neighbors - just because they drive different vehicles, don't have a lawn service, or just simply are a different nationality.  We are always trying to outdo each other - simply because not being the "winner" makes us the "loser".  Where did we ever get this messed up?!?

The greatest discontent we have to deal with is the tendency we have to not be content with who WE are. There is too much gray in our hair - so we rush to color it or pluck it out.  The mid-section has too much "beef" - so we buy the "love handle" exercise widget of the hour.  The clothes we just bought three months ago are already classified as "out of style" - so we send them off to the thrift store while we rush to the department stores to buy the latest in fashion.  All the while, we neglect the biggest thing that brings contentment in life - being happy with who and what we are!

Yes, my mid-section could use a little work and I am not up-to-date on my wardrobe selections.  My hair is almost not recognizably brunette any longer.  But...I am who I am!  No more, no less.  There is nothing I can do that will change that!  I can make myself "look" better - but it is the "inside" that counts!  We have lost sight of the fact that inner character is the true measure of a man or a woman.  This is something we'd do well to relearn!

When I look at my neighbors, I see a single mother who is doing the hard job of raising four children on her own.  I see a single man, enjoying the reward of time at the lake in his fishing boat after a long week at work.  I see a mother raising her Down's Syndrome child compassionately and with such deep dedication.  Look around you - if you really begin to look through the eyes of Jesus, there is so much in your world that really begins to stand out as both commendable and valuable.  It is not the "things" - it is the people!

We are all "what we are".  No more, no less.  When we come to that realization, we are liberated to begin to live "just as God made us".  With all the quirks and nuances of our character.  We stop judging others for what they have, how they act, or what they say.  We start seeing others as gifts in our lives - someone placed there for this moment in time.

The idea of contentment is being satisfied with what or who we are - not wanting anything else.  It is coming to a place of satisfaction - knowing that we are "perfect" in God's eyes.  Yes, he encourages us to keep our bodies in shape - but he doesn't want us to make our bodies our gods.  Yes, he desires for us to have things that will make life easier - but he doesn't want us to elevate those things to a level of importance that exceeds his in our life.  What we "are" first and foremost is children of God - direct heirs of his grace and his love!  

No more, no less!