Happy, Happy, Happy
2 – More, More, More –> Enough, Enough, Enough
So we started a brand new series last week called “Happy, Happy, Happy” where we are taking a look at entitlement versus contentment. And those aren’t words we use everyday so Andie started us out by talking about what they mean. Entitlement is this idea that we are owed something in life. Whether it is a certain level of lifestyle, clothing, gadgets or to simply be treated a certain way just because of who you are. You are definitely living in an entitlement generation – one that says give me something even if I don’t work for it. I want or deserve better, even though I won’t put in the time, dedication or discipline in order to get it. It’s our sinful nature at work basically saying, “I want what I want, when I want it and you better give it to me.”
Contentment on the other hand says, “I don’t really deserve anything (other than God’s wrath since we are sinners) but I’ll be grateful for whatever I have. I’m not going to expect things for free or for people to treat me in a certain way just because of who I am.” Contentment is a state of satisfaction no matter what our circumstances. I tell you where I see this best is in Nicaragua each year. We have travelled into La Chureca (the city dump) where people literally are eating or rummaging through the trash – living in homes made of trash and yet they can be happy. It’s the most amazing thing to see and is always very convicting. How does this happen? I can’t say it is true of everyone in there, but some have simply learned to be content.
And that’s our goal in this series – to teach you contentment. Our theme verse is found in Philippians 4:11, Paul writes, “for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.” Pretty simple and straightforward isn’t it?
Tonight I want to talk about this idea of more, more, more. We can’t ever seem to have enough can we? Why is it so hard to feel satisfied when we know there is more? See from an early age we are taught to somehow believe that more is better.
We laugh, but deep down we all really believe this. You know one of the things that has really impressed me with Phil Robertson’s story is that he has seemed to learn that more isn’t always better. The guy has gone from nothing to now being a millionaire and he still lives in the same house (trailer actually) that he always has. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m sure he has enjoyed the benefits of having more money, but you know what I know he would tell you? He has learned what it means to be content. He’s understood that more, more, more isn’t where life is lived, but rather enough, enough, enough is.
How about you? Have you learned and applied the word “enough” to your life? Or are you someone who is continually seeking out “more.” You may find yourself believing that if you just had this or a little more of that, then you could really be happy and satisfied. But more doesn’t ever do that for us, does it? Somehow when we finally get the “more” we were searching for, we realize there is still more out there.
It reminds me of the story of the ring-tailed lemur. Men who trap animals in Africa for zoos in America say that one of the hardest animals to catch is this ring-tailed monkey. For the Zulu people of that continent, however, it’s simple. They’ve been catching this agile little animal with ease for years. The method the Zulus use is based on knowledge of the animal. Their trap is nothing more than a melon growing on a vine. The seeds of this melon are a favorite of the monkey. Knowing this, the Zulus simply cut a hole in the melon, just large enough for the monkey to insert his hand to reach the seeds inside. The monkey will stick his hand in, grab as many seeds as he can, then start to withdraw it. This he cannot do. His fist is now larger than the hole. The monkey will pull and tug, screech and fight the melon for hours. But he can’t get free of the trap unless he gives up the seeds, which he refuses to do. Meanwhile, the Zulus sneak up and nab him.
Chances you and I relate to that little money more that we care to admit. We love stuff and we always want more of it. And it doesn’t matter how rich or poor you are, what color your skin is or your background. Because this is an issue of the heart. Do you find more satisfaction in stuff, than in God?
Let’s look to God’s Word to see what He has to say about “more”. I’m reading from Luke 12:13-21, “Then someone called from the crowd, “Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.” Jesus replied, “Friend, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that?” Then he said, “Beware! Don’t be greedy for what you don’t have. Real life is not measured by how much we own.” And he gave an illustration: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. In fact, his barns were full to overflowing. So he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store everything. 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!’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get it all?’ “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”
This a parable that Jesus taught. A parable is simply an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. This parable of the Rich Fool seems to be a spontaneous illustration Jesus gave in response to a request from the crowd. In the middle of another sermon on another subject, a guy asks Jesus to get help him out. He says, “Hey, get my brother to split our inheritance 50/50!”
The guy definitely got more than he bargained for in Jesus’ response. You see, Jesus saw that a “I need more” attitude had grabbed the man’s heart, so he told a story to try to counteract it’s effects. He explained that material wealth is so passing that it hardly demands much attention. But if you do happen to find yourself with an income, you had better find a way to invest it in God’s direction. If you’re not rich toward God, you’re nothing but a poor fool.
Notice how Jesus tells the man to be on guard against all kinds of wanting more. The Bible calls this entitlement mentality of more: greed. And it’s actually a sin. So Jesus warns us to watch out for the multitude of circumstances in which greed grows: It can be fueled at the grocery store, in the mall, when we get money, while seeing an advertisement on TV and so on. But then Jesus also warns us to watch out for the different varieties of greed. This is a catch-all term that has specific manifestations in envy, hoarding, stinginess, ingratitude, poor stewardship, theft, adultery, etc.
Now let’s get honest for a minute. We live “I want more, more, more world.” A world kind of like Veruca Salt lived in in Willie Wonka. Remember her? She was the “I want more and I want it now” girl. She had to have the goose that laid the golden eggs and she wasn’t taking no for an answer. Now you may not be that extreme, but we all have to look in our hearts and realize that the stain of sin left this desire for more – a desire never to be satisfied and it has huge implications on our life if we don’t get it under the control of Christ. Much like the farmer in the parable we will keep chasing after more and then realize the more doesn’t matter when it comes to eternity.
How to Always Want More
1. Don’t even see God as a source of wealth unless He hands you a check personally.
The rich farmer never acknowledges his huge harvest as a blessing from God; nor does he seek God in prayer concerning how to use it. He doesn’t once ever think to thank God for not only providing for him, but really blessing him in his harvest. He just lives his life like he deserves it (remember entitlement?) and keeps wanting more. He thinks he deserves and made his elite status of wealth all by himself. And you can be like him. Don’t ever stop to thank God. Act like God actually owes you and you not only deserve everything you have, but you should actually have more. Then make a plan to get more and be less grateful.
2. Do whatever you can to stockpile your stuff.
The farmer never considers the possibility that he was given his crop to share, not to keep. Instead, at great time and expense the man tears down perfectly good barns just to build larger ones. His only thought is I need more room to be able to get more of my stuff fitting inside. You can do this too – just keep getting and getting and getting more and don’t ever think about giving anything away. Don’t you dare think about others – especially others that have needs. Why would you? It’s your stuff and you should pile it up to make room for more!
3. Feel really good about all you have.
This guy assumed he had just guaranteed himself years of problem-free living through the accumulation of wealth. He didn’t really even think about anything else in life other than his stuff. And don’t you know you could be just like him. Let your clothes define you. Make sure you have the latest and greatest when it comes to technology because everyone knows we are given status by the kind of phone we have. And we you start you think some of what you have isn’t getting old or you don’t have enough – by all means, upgrade and get more. After all, your self worth and value comes from what you have. It makes you who you are!
4. Upgrade and indulge whenever possible.
The foolish farmer prepared to party like never before. He had worked long and hard enough. Now his ship had come in. It was time to take it easy, maybe redecorate the house, take a cruise, or go shopping with the rich people. A brand new lifestyle had just opened up to him and he could not wait to enjoy it. You can do this too! Forget that what you currently have is working just fine – there’s a newer model. Don’t worry when you already have two or three similar things, get another one just for the heck of it! Chase after the latest and greatest and don’t deny yourself anything. If you want it, then you should have it. Indulge all of your desires because we all know that we find true happiness in our stuff – the more we have the better our lives.
Obviously if you didn’t catch on, I was telling you what you don’t want to do. You don’t want to be like the farmer and chase after what he was chasing after. That’s the whole point of Jesus’ parable. It’s a recipe for what not to do and how not to live! It would be so incredible for you guys as middle school students to grasp a Godly perspective on our stuff and what truly can make us happy, happy, happy! Start tithing and giving now now, start saving now, learn how to be generous and give it away and mostly learn to keep it in proper perspective!
This is where Paul can help us again. This time in 1 Timothy 6:6-8, “Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.”
Did you catch what he said? You brought nothing into this world and you can’t take anything out of it. That one section of that verse helps me move from more, more, more to enough, enough, enough. Understanding that my stuff can’t give me what I’m looking for and I can’t take my stuff with me truly allows me to live contented – happy, happy, happy.
He goes on to say that if you’ve got food and clothes, then you can be content. I love the simplicity of it. When we focus on what we do have, we don’t see what we don’t have. God has given us all so much more than the basics. Let’s start there and be thankful. Let’s realize what we have is more than enough. Think about our brothers and sisters in the Philippines right now. Some 600,000 of them have lost everything. It’s all gone. Are they looking for more right now? Nope. They are looking for the basics. It’s an interesting thing when tragedy strikes; we can more clearly see what is really important and what our needs really are.
to think about:
· Do you feel like you live always wanting “more”? What does that look like in your life?
· How is Jesus’ parable about the foolish farmer a good warning to us?
· How do you think you can move from an attitude of “more” to “enough”?
· What would it look like this holiday season to live contented (with enough)?