In this first sermon in our new ‘Nothing to Lose’ series, we explore contentment and generosity. We are constantly bombarded with advertisements and not so subtle innuendo that we should be discontent with what we have. This environment we find ourselves in strongly challenges the kingdom call to live out of a center of contentment and cultivate a heart full of generosity. In this message we explore what the Bible says about these topics as well as how they apply to our 21st century setting.
The proliferation of commercials and advertisements is relentless. We hear messages encouraging intentional discontentment everyday all around us. If we’re not intentional about living a counter cultural Kingdom lifestyle then this influence can leave us always wanting more and not being grateful for what we have. There are 2 key commandments in the New Testament relevant to this challenge: (1) be content with what you have, & (2) be generous with what you have.
We need to be clear with passages like 1 Timothy 6:6-7 that the point is not to follow God so that we gain some external financial prosperity. Unfortunately, this interpretation has been all too often abused within Christian circles. Rather in our pursuit of Godliness we gain contentment with what we already have and are freed from the desire to chase what we don’t have. The gain is the contentment itself, and in this we actually have what everyone else seems to be chasing. Unless you can learn to be content with what you already have, then you’ll never be content even if you got the thing you think you need. Everything is worthless to us after we die, so our goal is to start to devalue that which doesn’t survive the fire now and start focusing on the things that do, like love and the impact of relationships.
If asked most of us would not consider ourselves rich because we automatically compare ourselves to those above us in wealth. But if we compared ourselves on a historical and global level we are in the very top percentage of wealth of any humans that have ever lived. This is not to gloss over the real financial struggle that many people current have, but it should help provide some context about the situation we find ourselves in. In 1 Timothy 6:17-19 Paul speaks of storing up to create a good foundation for the future. This passage is not about feeling guilty for what we have because the world isn’t fair, but rather being willing to share and be rich in generosity. This is how we store up treasure in heaven. Like many other Kingdom principles that seem to go against common sense, if you give it away, you will have it forever. This attitude and action set can’t happen if our hearts are discontent. Discontentment makes us fundamentally self-centered.
There are several practices that can cultivate a content and generous heart:
- Get all your LIFE from Christ – our core sense of worth, security, and significance should come from what Jesus has said about each and every one of us. Only the love of God can fill the vacuum in our hearts.
- Seek FIRST the Kingdom of God – to make Jesus Christ Lord of our life means we make him Lord over every area. We submit all to Him asking how we should lovingly steward all that we’ve been given. This happens practically by taking inventory of how we spend our time and money and adjusting if necessary.
Practice GENEROSITY – some of us need to ask the honest question to God of “how generous am I?” Likely we’ll be given some encouragement to practice generosity in some specific area. This is how we get better at it and make it more natural. Where do I need to downsize with money or time to make more margin and space for generosity to move from the perimeter to the center of my life
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