To Be Not Content Is To Be Discontent

Sermon Notes  To Be Not Content Is To Be Discontent  

Epistle Lesson      1 Timothy 6:6-19

6Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. 7After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. 8So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.

9But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.

11But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. 12Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses. 13And I charge you before God, who gives life to all, and before Christ Jesus, who gave a good testimony before Pontius Pilate, 14that you obey this command without wavering. Then no one can find fault with you from now until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. 15For at just the right time Christ will be revealed from heaven by the blessed and only almighty God, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords. 16He alone can never die, and he lives in light so brilliant that no human can approach him. No human eye has ever seen him, nor ever will. All honor and power to him forever! Amen.

17Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. 18Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. 19By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.

Gospel Lesson      Luke 16:19-31

19Jesus said, “There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen and who lived each day in luxury. 20At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores. 21As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores.

22“Finally, the poor man died and was carried by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, 23and his soul went to the place of the dead. There, in torment, he saw Abraham in the far distance with Lazarus at his side.

24“The rich man shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames.’

25“But Abraham said to him, ‘Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish. 26And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there.’

27“Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. 28For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’

29“But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’

30“The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’

31“But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead.’”

 

“If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen if someone rises from the dead.”  This conclusion of the parable about poor suffering Lazarus and the Rich Man comes on the heels of Jesus’ rebuke of the Pharisees and their love of money in Lk 16,verses 13-15, where He said 13“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”… “You like to appear righteous in public, but God knows your hearts. What this world honors is detestable in the sight of God.”

Here, Jesus accuses the religious privileged of being more worldly than religious.  Their religiosity was simply a cloak to legitimize their worldliness, the easy life, and their obsession with luxury in the midst of suffering all around them.

Poor Lazarus lived a miserable life and often spent his day waiting for the Rich Man’s discarded leftovers.  His life was absent of pleasure and comfort.  He, like the Rich Man’s leftovers, was discarded by society with no value or no worth.  Yet, it appears that he accepted his lot in life and appreciated anything afforded him.  With what little he had, he appeared content.

In contrast, the Rich Man always desired more, even at the expense and care of the outcast he encountered and avoided most every day.  It was never enough, always wanting more.

Comparing the two, Lazarus was content, while the Rich Man, though he had everything a man could want, was discontent because having enough wasn’t enough.  He thought if he could fill his life with things, with comforts, with luxury he would be fulfilled, but he remained empty.

It is on this that the Apostle Paul zeros in on in writing his young Theolog, Timothy.  Being the good mentor, Paul reminded Timothy of what’s important in living out one’s life.

The world measures success in terms of wealth.  How many digits you have in you hourly wage or salary and retirement plan determines how well you lived your life. It is a quantitative measure that one would think would have a qualitative result.

Indeed, there are studies that say those in certainly income brackets tend to live a happier life, but over and over again we witness where having lots of money does not necessarily bring lots of meaning.

In verse 6 of chapter 6 (1 Timothy), Paul writes, “6Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.”  True, real, no-kidding wealth is linked with living a sound principled devout life (that is, godliness) and being content.  If one is religious, but discontented, then there is something out of order in their life.  If they think that living a religious life is one way to gain more, have more, and consume more they are going to be in for a great surprise.

Paul goes on to remind Timmy that “7After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. 8So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.”

So, what is enough for you?  Jesus posed it to the Pharisees, and Paul focuses in on it with Timothy.  What is enough, and when do we know we have enough in order to be content.

Much of the unhappiness and dissatisfaction we see around us is because people are not satisfied with enough.  They want more out of their jobs, their employers or their unions; more from their government and state agencies; more from their spouses, their children or their parents; they want more from their community, their churches, and their schools.  Everybody wants more…when is enough, enough?

Do you want to know what is key to a truly wealthy, satisfied, and meaningful life? Contentment!

Paul hits to the heart of it all….people’s cravings (obsessions) draw them away from true meaning (God) and causes them to plunge into ruin and destruction and they end up wandering “from the true faith” and find they have “pierced themselves with many sorrows.”

Now, how many of you have lost or broken something you’ve valued?  Now tell me the truth, when you lost or broke it, you opened your heart in laughter praising God that you finally are rid of it?

I don’t think so.  More than likely, if you are anything like me, you want to find out why it is broken, who broke it, and what will it take to get it fixed or replaced; or if it is lost your life is consumed until you find it.  I think Paul’s description fits many of us when we’ve lost or broken things we’ve cherish, “we’ve pierced ourselves with many sorrows!”

Paul is not finished with Timmy or with us. He outlines for us 4 techniques in living a contented life: Run, Pursue, Fight, and Hold Tight.

First, “11run from all these evil things.

In “The Lord’s Prayer” Jesus instructs us to pray that we not be lead into temptation, but instead, be delivered from evil.  However, if we keep exposing ourselves to things that tempt or influence us, then it makes God’s job of delivering us from evil much harder.

So, Run!  Run from music, movies, TV shows, advertisements, books, or establishments that will draw you to be tempted and draw you away from God.  Develop habits that keep you from indulging in behaviors that are not good for you.  We all know we shouldn’t go grocery shopping on an empty stomach, so in much the same way, we shouldn’t expose ourselves to things that consume us if our needs are not satisfied.

Second, “Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.”

The best way to distance you from evil influences, unhealthy habits, neediness from hurts, and dysfunctional hang-ups, is to practice healthy habits.  To Paul that meant, chase after doing good, live a life you know God would smile at, and practice over and over again the attitudes of faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.

Third, “12Fight the good fight for the true faith.” In other words, when everyone else says “quit,”—don’t!  Each time you stay true you become stronger and find you can face and overcome even more obstacles.

Fourth, “Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses.

Here, Paul reminds us of what really counts and what really matters.  We need to hold tightly to those things that have eternal value.  We know faith, hope and love endure eternally.

But for those you who just waited in line to buy that new iPhone, it is only as valuable until the new one is released in the next year or so.  Yet, you’ll spend more time configuring it, using it, keeping it updated, and protecting it from getting lost or broken than you’ll even spend in communion with God.

Come time to go to heaven, what will we ever do without your smartphones?

Paul informs us to grip onto, without letting go, those things that have eternal value.

If you Run from those evil hurts, habits and hang-ups that want to possess you; if you Pursue healthy habits and attitudes; if you Fight to be consistent and to never give up; and if you Hold on tightly to those values the are durable and reliable, not only in this life but in the next, then guess what? You’ll be content!

Paul wraps up his instruction with a promise: “14that you obey this command without wavering. Then no one can find fault with you from now until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.

Talk about confidence building.  Paul, you mean if I run from bad habits, painful hurts, and dysfunctional hang-ups; if I pursue healthy habits and mindsets; if I fight to live a consistent upright life; and hold tightly to those things which stand up to eternity’s test; then no one can find fault with me?

All of us face criticism, but if we live by the principles given to us by God’s Word in Scripture, then no one can ascribe fault to us.  They may not like our stand or stance; they may not like our position or what we believe in; but their criticism will never be able to define us because our definition comes from God!

 

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