The Search for Happiness: Thankfulness and Contentment
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Big Idea of the Message: In a culture where many are focused on what they don’t have, God calls us to focus on his spiritual provision.
Application Point: Don’t lust after wealth, instead be content with what God has given you.
Sermon Ideas and Talking Points:
1. This letter is written by the aging apostle Paul to Timothy, a young man in ministry. The theme of this letter focuses on the issue of false teachers influencing the congregation in Ephesus. Many within the church had been led astray by these heretical beliefs/practices (i.e. using godliness to become wealthy [vv. 3-10]). Ephesus was a wealthy port city during this time, which forms the subtext of this particular passage.
2. Verse 9 speaks of those who desire to be rich. Rather than focusing on what they did have (food, clothing, the grace of God), they instead chose to focus on what they didn’t have. This is one of several examples we read throughout scripture of this kind of attitude (see the stories Lot and Haman).
The story is told about a pilot who always looked down intently on a certain valley in the Appalachians when the plane passed overhead. One day his co-pilot asked, “What’s so interesting about that spot?” The pilot replied, “See that stream? Well, when I was a kid I used to sit down there on a log and fish. Every time an airplane flew over, I would look up and wish I were flying... Now I look down and wish I were fishing.”
It is always tempting to think that others have it better than we do, and that if we just had “a little more” everything would be fine. But contentment cannot be achieved by increasing possessions. Nothing will ever be enough.
3. Having wealth is not necessarily a sin. We have a problem, however, when we become so focused on becoming rich that we allow ourselves to fall into temptation.
4. As with many things in life, money is a two-sided coin. It can be used for God’s glory to bring people to himself, or it can lead to a person’s downfall. To connect with visual learners, use a coin to illustrate this example.
5. Applying this passage could mean several things to several people. Some may need to work less (and thus make less money) to better lead their family and serve the local church. Others need to be more generous. Then, there are some who need to repent of their lust for wealth, and find contentment in Christ alone.
6. Tim Keller writes, “As a pastor I've had people come to me and confess that they struggle with almost every kind of sin. Almost. I cannot recall anyone ever coming to me and saying, ‘I spend too much money on myself. I think my greedy lust for money is harming my family, my soul, and people around me.’ Greed hides itself from the victim. The money god's modus operandi includes blindness to your own heart” (Timothy Keller, Counterfeit Gods, 52).
7. Have you ever thought about what it takes to spot a counterfeit dollar bill? (Show a dollar bill to the audience.) Fun fact: when federal agents are training to spot counterfeit money, they don’t study other counterfeits. No, instead, the agents will study the real thing. They’ll spend hours looking at $20, $50, and $100 dollar bills. You see, if they learn to know what’s authentic, they will also learn to spot what’s not authentic. In that same way, we as Christians should spend our time studying Christ. As we study him more, it’ll be easier to spot beliefs and behaviors that don’t produce authentic faith. Jesus is the ultimate example of someone who lived a life of contentment and sacrifice (see
And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
). In this same way, our focus as believers should be eternal rather than temporary. If our attention is on Christ and his riches (even if that means poverty or suffering), we ultimately receive the greatest reward possible—eternity in his presence. (Source: http://www.challies.com/articles/counterfeit-detection-part-1)
In this same way, our focus as believers should be eternal rather than temporary. If our attention is on Christ and his riches (even if that means poverty or suffering), we ultimately receive the greatest reward possible—eternity in his presence. (Source: http://www.challies.com/articles/counterfeit-detection-part-1)