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Contentment and Thankfulness

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A master copy of the indented outline in both MS Word and PDF formats can be downloaded at the bottom of this page.

Contentment and Thankfulness

I. My recent trip to the Philippines made me aware of the importance of the Christian attitude of contentment and thankfulness.
1. I saw:
A. Extreme poverty.
B. People living in shacks and shanties.
C. People living in 90+ degree heat with high humidity without air conditioning.
D. Most people not owing a car, and instead relying on crowded Jeepneys, tricycles (motorcycles with sidecars), and non-air conditioned buses and trains to travel in.
E. A church meeting in a non-air conditioned house in sweltering heat for a couple of hours.
2. I also saw:
A. Nobody complaining.
B. Happy people.
C. Content people.
3. Ask yourselves:
A. Could I be content living in such conditions?
B. Would I go to church in a 90+ degree room every Sunday?
C. Would I still be thankful to God in such a case?

II. Defining the terms
1. Contentment n. - 1. The action of satisfying; the process of being satisfied; satisfaction. arch. 2. The fact, condition, or quality of being contented; contentedness. (The usual modern sense.) 1611 Bible 1 Tim. vi. 6 But godlinesse with contentment is great gaine.
A. Satisfied ppl. adj. - 1. Contented, pleased, gratified.
B. Satisfaction - II. With reference to desires or feelings. 5. a. The action of gratifying (an appetite or desire) to the full, or of contenting (a person) by the complete fulfilment of a desire or supply of a want; the fact of having been gratified to the full or of having one's desire fulfilled.
C. Content adj. - 1. Having one's desires bounded by what one has (though that may be less than one could have wished); not disturbed by the desire of anything more, or of anything different; ‘satisfied so as not to repine; easy though not highly pleased’ b. In imper. be content: be satisfied in mind; be calm, quiet, not uneasy.
2. Thankfulness n. - The quality or condition of being thankful. 1. Gratefulness, gratitude.
A. Thankful adj. - 1. a. Feeling or expressing thanks or gratitude; prompted by feelings of gratitude; grateful. Phr. thankful for small mercies.
B. Gratefulness adj. - The quality of being grateful
C. Grateful adj. - 2. Of persons, their actions and attributes: Feeling gratitude; actuated by or manifesting gratitude; thankful.
D. Gratitude n. - 1. The quality or condition of being grateful; a warm sense of appreciation of kindness received, involving a feeling of goodwill towards the benefactor and a desire to do something in return; gratefulness.

III. God commands us to be thankful (Col 3:15; Psa 100:4).
1. The wicked are unthankful (2Ti 3:2).
2. Unthankfulness is the beginning of the slippery slope into a sinful life (Rom 1:21).
3. Are you a thankful person?
A. We are to give thanks in everything (1Th 5:18; Eph 5:20).
B. We should thank God when both good and bad things happen to us (Ecc 7:14).
C. How often do you thank God for His blessings in your life?
D. Do you always thank God before each meal? In public?
i. Jesus did (Joh 6:11; Luk 22:17,19).
ii. Paul did (Act 27:35).
E. Do you teach your children to thank God before eating?
F. Do you teach your children to say "thank you" when someone gives them something or does something for them?
G. Do you or your children have an entitlement mindset?
H. Do you or your children think that God or the world owes you something?

IV. Contentment
1. How to attain contentment.
A. There are two ideas concerning how to attain contentment:
i. We can try to adjust the amount to things (material or immaterial) we have to meet our desires.
ii. We can adjust our desires to accord with the amount of things (material or immaterial) that we have.
B. The first idea is not plausible for two reasons:
i. The amount of things (material and immaterial) we can acquire is largely out of our control.
ii. Our nature is such that if we do acquire the things we want, our desires will readjust and we will desire to have more (see next section - Section IV,3).
C. The second idea is the only attainable, and Biblically acceptable, option.
i. While our possessions are not under our direct control, our desires are.
ii. This will be proved presently.
2. God requires us to be content.
A. We are required to be content with the bare essentials of life: food and clothing (1Ti 6:8).
B. We must be content with such things as we have (Heb 13:5).
i. Therefore, every one of us already has all that we need to be content.
ii. If you are not content with what you have now, you will never be content.
C. John the Baptist required soldiers who came to him for baptism to be content with their wages (Luk 3:14).
D. Are you content with your wages?
E. Husbands must be satisfied with their wives and not desire another (Pro 5:18-20; Exo 20:17).
F. Are you content with your spouse?
3. Contentment doesn't come naturally.
A. The eyes of man are never satisfied (Pro 27:20; Ecc 1:8; Ecc 4:8).
B. Those who love money and abundance will not be satisfied with it (Ecc 5:10).
C. Man is prone to lust and envy (Jam 4:5).
D. Lust, covetousness, and envy are the opposite of contentment.
i. Lust n. - 1. Pleasure, delight. obs. 2. Desire, appetite, relish or inclination for something. 3. spec. in Biblical and Theological use: Sensuous appetite or desire, considered as sinful or leading to sin.
ii. Covetous adj. - 1. Having an ardent or excessive desire of (or †for) anything; eagerly desirous to do, have, or be.
iii. Envy v.- 1. trans. To feel displeasure and ill-will at the superiority of (another person) in happiness, success, reputation, or the possession of anything desirable; to regard with discontent another's possession of (some superior advantage which one would like to have for oneself). Also in less unfavourable sense: To wish oneself on a level with (another) in happiness or in the possession of something desirable; to wish oneself possessed of (something which another has).
iv. Do you rejoice with them that do rejoice (Rom 12:15), or do you despise them that do rejoice because you wish you had what they have?
E. Money and wealth don't satisfy (Ecc 2:4-11; Ecc 5:10; Eze 7:19).
F. Sin doesn't satisfy (Eze 16:28-29).
G. Sinners cannot be satisfied (Hab 2:5; Pro 13:25).
4. Contentment must be learned (Phi 4:11-12).
A. Satisfaction comes through labour, not idleness (Pro 12:11; Pro 12:14; Pro 20:13).
B. A good man needs nothing outside of himself to be satisfied (Pro 14:14).
C. A man's own words can feed his contentment (Pro 18:20).
D. The fear for the LORD brings satisfaction (Pro 19:23).
E. Godliness with contentment is great gain (1Ti 6:6).
5. The servant isn't greater than his Lord (Joh 13:16).
A. Jesus didn't even have his own place (Mat 8:20).
B. The apostles were deprived of shelter, clothes, and food at times (1Co 4:11).
C. If Jesus and the apostles were content with little, then we should be too.
6. The poor are blessed (Mat 5:3; Jam 2:5).
A. The meek shall be satisfied (Psa 22:26).
B. On the other hand, the rich are cursed (Jam 5:1-6; Ecc 5:12).
C. Affluence is often a greater curse than poverty (Eze 16:49).
D. It is wise to desire the middle station in life (Pro 30:7-9).
7. God will satisfy His children (Psa 103:1-5; Psa 107:8-9).
A. God's children who are faithful shall be satisfied in God's house (Psa 36:7-9; Psa 132:13-15).
B. We are blessed exceedingly to be God's elect and we should be satisfied to dwell in His house (Psa 65:4).
C. God's people shall be satisfied with God's goodness (Jer 31:14).
D. If we call upon God, He will satisfy us (Psa 91:14-16).
E. This world's good doesn't bring satisfaction, but God and His word does (Isa 55:1-2; Mat 4:4).

A master copy of the indented outline in both MS Word and PDF formats can be downloaded at the bottom of this page.

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