This month at South Side we are doing a series entitled “The More Of Less.” We live in a culture that promotes the concept that “more is more” but Jesus actually taught us that less is more. USA Today recently reported a study on Wealth vs. Happiness. It found that the number of households with more than $1 million in net worth (excluding primary residence) has risen to a record high and at a record rate according to recent research by TNS Financial Services. The number of wealthy U.S. households has shot to 8.2 million which is a 33% increase over last year. But, are they any happier? A report from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation found an inverse relationship between money and a child’s happiness. More middle-class children said they were happier than their wealthier classmates! In this world there are never ending places to look for contentment but I believe true contentment is only found in Christ.
The person that spoke the most about contentment in the New Testament is the Apostle Paul. Now understand that the Apostle Paul came from an elite background, but set it aside for the joy of knowing and serving Jesus. In Philippians 3:4–7, he lays out the fact that he came from a very Torah-observant family from the tribe of Benjamin and that he had gained a reputation for his zeal in persecuting the church. Elsewhere in Scripture we learn that Paul had Roman citizenship (Acts 22:25). Citizenship in the Roman Empire was highly prized. We know he was well educated from the quality of the Greek he wrote and that he studied under the famous Gamaliel in Jerusalem (Acts 22:3). We also know that he was a tradesman and worked as a tentmaker (Acts 18:3). By the time he encounters Jesus on the Damascus road, you could say he was living the dream. And yet, after meeting Jesus, this is what he said about his life: “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8).
As we look through the lens of scripture we see that none of the status and accomplishments in Paul’s life brought the untouchable satisfaction he later found in knowing Jesus. Enough was never enough for Paul. But when he met Christ, he considered everything else “rubbish” and felt there was nothing better than knowing Jesus. Who is in control when it comes to your life? Is it your career, your relationships, your possessions? Do you possess them, or do they possess you? Is Paul saying we should just settle for less? No! Paul had lost everything, but in the process of losing it turned out that he gained everything. As he puts it, “For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” So there is the loss of everything his identity had been based upon—and then those things turn out to be nothing more than trash. In the moment of what he would have previously considered tremendous loss, there is instead great gain. Paul learned that we will not be content in this life until we realize that Jesus is better than anything else we are spending our time pursuing. More of more will never be enough!
For the sake of his family, a man switched careers, and the career change brought a significant decrease in the family’s income. He trusted that this was what God wanted him to do. But one day, when things were particularly tight, he went into his bedroom, got down on his knees, and prayed for a long time for God’s provision. When he finished and emerged from the bedroom, his wife said, “Someone left this in our door” and showed him a hundred-dollar Visa gift card. No name, nothing attached to it. She told him that while he was upstairs praying, someone rang the doorbell, and when she opened the door no one was there—only the gift card. A hundred dollars may not sound like much, but it was just what they needed: a reminder that God would provide for their every need. Are you living a life of contentment or resentment? Have you been fooled by the devil, or filled with everything you need from Christ?
This Sunday at South Side we will continue our series entitled “The More Of Less.” In a world that says “more is more” we can learn the secret of finding untouchable contentment in Christ. Worship begins at 10:15, and our Children’s Ministry offers children’s classes for all ages. We are continuing to practice social distancing at our services. If you are unable to attend our online services will be available at 3 on Facebook and our website. If you would like to give generously text: 84321 then the word “help” and follow the simple instructions. We would love to have your family worship with us! For more information visit us on our website at: www.southsidewch.com or on Facebook.
South Side Church of Christ