“Happy, Happy, Happy”
Well, tonight we begin a new series. In the spirit of Thanksgiving and of a show that has recently become popular, we are calling it Happy, Happy, Happy. This is a phrase that Phil from Duck Dynasty says frequently and he calls us to question what makes us as human beings really happy or content. Now for those of you who haven’t seen Duck Dynasty, let me paint you a little picture. The Robertson family isn’t your average family. The men in this family all have long, bushy beards, and love to hunt anything from ducks to squirrels to frogs. The women love and support their husbands and love cooking the wild game the men bring home. Phil, the grandfather in the family started making duck calls about 40 years ago, and it launched off to a multi-million dollar family business. But even with the wealth of the family business, Phil and his wife Kay still live in the same trailer as when they got married and they all enjoy spending time with one another and end every show thanking God for their family and for all that He has given them. They do not take for granted where they came from. Let me show you a clip from one of the episodes where Phil is teaching a life lesson to one of his grandchildren.
You see, Phil is like the apostle Paul when he writes to the Philippian church. This is our theme verse for this series. Paul writes “for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.” –Philippians 4:11
He goes on to say that he knows how to live on almost nothing or with everything. He has learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. I think we have much we can learn from Phil and the Robertsons about life. We live in this entitlement-crazed culture and we take the things we have for granted. Some of you may be asking what is entitlement? Well, the dictionary defines it this way:
Entitlement – the right to guaranteed benefits under a government program, such as social security or unemployment compensation.
I know this doesn’t really apply to any of you. But let me define it another way:
When someone thinks they are owed something by life; they should get things because they are who they are.
Synonyms: privilege, right, dueness, declaration, deserving, expectation
Still wondering if this applies to you? Let me give you some examples. What are some of the first words a toddler says when he starts talking and clearly wants something? “Gimme. Gimme” right? It’s this mentality that you have something, and not only do I want it, but I need it and deserve it. Whether we realize it or not, we carry that mentality throughout childhood and even into our adulthood. When I was growing up, my brother and I fought over the front seat, who got the last piece of cake and watching tv. As the older brother, he thought he deserved to stay up later or do more things with his friends. It was his right and privilege as the older sibling. Are any of your stories like that? What about with technology? How many of you have said to your parents, “Everyone else has an iphone, why can’t I? Or “all of my friends have instragram or facebook accounts, I deserve one too!” If we are being honest with ourselves, we have all said or thought these things. As people grow older, this mentality grows into wanting bigger and better. You’ve worked hard, you’ve earned the right to splurge on a new car! Or, maybe your family has said, we just don’t have enough space. We need to move to a bigger house.
More is Not Always Better…
We have this bigger and better mentality, but that only leads us away from Christ. Luke tells the story of a man who had considerable wealth. His land produced such considerable crops that he had no where to store them. So he starts this conversation with himself. Follow the story with me:
He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ 18 Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. 19 And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’ –Luke 12:17-20
Do you see his entitlement mentality? I’ll just build bigger ones and then I can sit back, drink and be merry! Jesus calls him a fool. Why? Because all of the stuff that we seek to get, all the riches and wealth, none of it do we take with us when we die. None. Matthew says something similar, and it’s a familiar passage to many of us. He writes, 19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. –Matthew 6:19-21
If we are seeking earthly things in this life and trying to gain satisfaction in them, we are just like the rich fool in Luke’s gospel. Having stuff in and of itself is not a bad thing. But so often it will lead to wanting more and a discontent with what we do have. Think of John Mayer. Some of you may know him, but he is a well-known musician. He has successfully written several albums and he has made a lot of money. But even he realizes that something in his life is missing. He wrote a song with that title “Something’s Missing” and these are some of his lyrics:
“I’m dizzy from the shopping malls
I searched for joy, but I bought it all
It doesn’t help the hunger pains
And a thirst I’d have to drown first to ever satiate
I can’t be sure that this state of mind, is not of my own design
I wish there was an over the counter test for lonliness. For loneliness like this.
Something’s missing. And I don’t know how to fix it. Something’s missing and I don’t know what it is…” And then he goes into a checklist.
Even John Mayer, with all of his wealth, fame and riches isn’t satisfied. And the truth is he never will be until finds his identity in Christ.
James says that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father.” – James 1:17
When we see that God is the Giver of all that we have and all that we need, that everything is a gift, we can then be content no matter if we have a little or a lot. And when we see that God has provided all that we need, He changes our hearts from an entitlement, or gimme, gimme mentality to one of thanksgiving.
Over the next couple of weeks we are going to continue to talk about this area of contentment and what it looks like to be content and thankful in any and every circumstance as Paul says. But this week I challenge you to think about some areas in your life where you are tempted to have an entitlement mentality, to ask God to show you all the ways He has provided for you and then to practice being thankful for them.