The Power of Contentment

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The most toured home in America is . . . you guessed it . . . the White House. Do you know what the second most toured home is in America? The second most toured home in America is in Memphis, Tennessee and itís the 23 room home of
the King of Rock and RollóElvis Presley. (Thank you, thank you very much.)

Graceland is toured by hundreds of people every day and a total of 15 million dollars a year is brought in by those visiting the estate. Elvis seemed to have it all: money, airplanes, gold records, cars, mansions. But most of us know how that story ended.

In fact, if you go fifty yards from the back door of Graceland you find a tombstone. August 16, 1977, just 42 years old! An overdose of pills! Depression! Plague with discontentment! He had as much as anybody in his time, and still he said at one point, "I would give a million dollars for one day of peace." It appears that he never did find what he was looking for.

Paul writes, ďFor I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in wantĒ (Philippians 4:11Ė12).

Circle the word ďlearnedĒ above. Paul said I have learned to be content no matter what state Iím in. No matter what state? So if youíre in Illinois, or Michigan or Hawaii or Florida . . . be content? Probably not!

Paulís writing to people like us. He says we can LEARN to be content. It sounds to me like this isnít a natural outcome for us . . . and the truth is, itís not automatic for anyone. Itís something that has to be learned.

If Paul learned it, that means he wasnít always that content but it was something he was able to grow in. Yet just as contentment is learned, discontentment is also learned. And I would even argue that itís contagious. Whenever Iím around discontented people, I know I canít spend much time with them because that attitude starts to rub off on me. ďYeah . . . youíre right . . . my life does stink. This world is a mess. Our country is falling apart.Ē And on it goes.
 

This is why I like to start my day with the Good News before I read the bad news. I need a solid helping of Godís Good News in order to help properly process all the bad news. I need to see Godís big picture first before I can deal with a up
close picture of the world around me. When I started reading the bible first, I found contentment was easier to obtain. My advice is simple; read the Bible before you read the newspaper.

So what does God say about contentment? "Godliness with contentment is great gain" (I Timothy 6:6Ė8). ďKeep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you haveĒ (Hebrews 13:4Ė6).

I am not by nature a contented person and neither are you. Thatís why we work at it.

Time to bust a quick myth. Contentment is not apathy, laziness, or complacency. Itís good to have goals. Itís good to work hard and achieve. But donít make your happiness based on chasing rabbits around the track; like a pack of dogs with
no direction. After all, if we learn anything from the King of Rock and Roll, itís to slow down. A person with six children can be more contented than a person with six million dollars.

Everyone has a good list and a bad list in life. Regardless of which list is longer right now, make a commitment to focus on the good list today and be contented. God probably knows what heís saying will benefit you more this day.

[Ron Otto, Preaching minister at Lincoln Christian Church in Lincoln]

 

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