“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11).
I can tell you in all honesty what it is like being poor. Mrs. Gray and I went to the same schools. Both Mrs. Gray and I were from the poor side of town. We know what it is like to be in poverty. I remember the icebox, out house, and the coal furnace. The truth is I was just as content then as I am today. I did not know we were poor because of being content.
Mrs. Gray and I purchased our first house in a government housing project for $6,500 and had a monthly payment of $75. We had a potbelly stove in the center of the house with just a blower attached. We were just as content then as we are now! I have lived in the north and in the south. I was just as content in both places.
The question obviously must be asked, “How do you have contentment?” The word content can be defined as “self-sufficient” or “needing not assistance.” The first half of that word is from the word “auto” like “automobile” which in essence means it operates itself. It also means content or “happy from within”.
I do not need another human being in order to be content. The contentment is not up to any outside stimuli. The degree of contentment is up to each individual. Others can make you happier but they cannot make you content. I refuse to entrust to anyone my contentment.
So I have determined to be happy from within and allow others to make me happier but never discontent. “Content” being defined as “self-sufficient” or “needing no assistance.” Contentment is from within and not without.
Paul is saying about life that each asset has a liability and each liability has an asset. Both are equal to each other. Paul is saying, “I have tempered my excitement about each asset because I know each asset has a liability. I also temper each liability in life because I know each liability has an asset.”
For every negative in life there is a positive and for every positive in life there is a negative. Roses have thorns and thorns have roses. Every laugh has an accompanying tear and every tear has an accompanying laugh.
No one has it any worse than any one else. Likewise no one has it any better than any one else. “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.” Enjoy the laughter because there will be weeping after a while. Endure and get the most out of weeping because laughter will return after a while. So, in life it always comes out even!
Every man’s positives have balancing negatives! Every man’s cup is half full and every man’s cup is half empty. Those who laugh the most will cry the most. Those who cry the most will laugh the most. Those who love deeply will grieve deeply and those who do not love deeply will not grieve deeply and to the same degree that you love you will also hurt. When life is over it all balances out.
Nobody has a right to complain any more than any one else has a right to complain. Why, because every positive has a corresponding negative. Those that have much have more to lose. The joys of the maternity ward will some day be balanced by the tears of the funeral home. He who has many friends will lose many friends.
They who have more children will have more dirty walls, more doctor bills, and more diapers to change. Don’t miss this! On the reverse of this those who have dirty walls will have the precious gift of children, of being loved, and will have the joy of their childhood and their innocence.
I am saying that for every asset there is a liability. The degree one feels the deeper his heartache. The shallower one feels the less heartache. In defeat there are lessons learned that victors seldom discover. So, victory has its corresponding negative and defeat has its corresponding positive. In defeat and its hurt there is a positive and in victory and its shout there is a negative. In sadness, in heartache, in set backs, and in failure there is a positive.
Likewise in success there is a negative. The more the wealth the more shallow the friends. The more things you own the more things that will break and need repairs. The more friends you have the more trips to the cemetery and you will have to take more trips to the hospital.
When you obtain you do not know the joy of obtaining. When you arrive you lose the joy of arriving. He who has apprehended does not know the joy of apprehending any longer. He who has acquired will lose the joy of acquiring.
He who suffers most knows the grace of God. Thus, none of us have it any worse than the rest of us so. None of us have it any better than the rest of us.
Electricians understand the fact that for every positive there is a negative. Paul teaches this truth. Paul learned that we all have the same access to happiness and contentment. Likewise we all have a corresponding access to discontentment.
If it be true that everyone’s cup is half full and thus half empty then obviously you will rejoice because of the half full cup and lament about the half empty cup. Every Sunday school bus rider, mission man, public school child, all have the same access to contentment that everyone else has. Why, because for every accomplishment in life there is a negative and because every thing you acquire brings with it a negative.
“.,.think on these things.” What things? Truth, honest things, just things, pure things, lovely things, good things, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise” (Philippians 4:8).
In Acts 26:2 Paul said, “I think myself happy”.
“As a man thinketh in his heart so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).
Paul looks at his assets. He looks at his assets and others liabilities. Wow! What a thought! Paul rejoiced because of his half full cup and mourned with others about their half empty cup. Paul looked for ways to help others while not bemoaning his own half empty cup of his life.
I am a content man and a happy man! I am genuinely happen! This is not a giddy shallow happiness. When I work I work! When it’s time to be serious I’m serious. When it’s time to have fun I have fun. When it’s time to rebuke I rebuke. When it’s time to laugh I laugh. I attempt to focus on my half full cup not my half empty cup. I then look to attempt to help others with their half empty cup of life.
That is how Paul lived. He focused on his assets and then focused on other’ liabilities. Then he spent his assets helping those with their liabilities. Mrs. Gray and I have spent years having nothing and now we have things. We have lived in shacks and now we live in a nice house. We were young and now we are senior saints.
You must be content if you are to have contentment. Which means you must focus on your positives and not the corresponding negatives. Then, focus on others negatives and spend your assets helping others with their liabilities. If you are content you will find contentment.
There are assets to being you but there are also accompanying liabilities to being young. That is why a young person ought to beat the door down to get to the elders and to the preacher and gain from their assets. Why, so they can have more so they can help more.
As a preacher I look at your burdens and my joys. If you catch me weeping I promise you I am not weeping for poor old me. If you ever catch me mad it will not be for my sake. I promise you! It will be for some one else’s’ sake and not mine. If you ever catch me hurting I promise you it will be for you not me!
I look at your half empty cup and my half full cup in life. Ever person who has ever found contentment has abandoned complaining and griping. The only reason you grip I because you are selfishly looking at your half empty cup of liabilities. If you are saved you are going to miss Hell. Well somebody say AMEN!
The truth is if you are not content you will not find contentment! The way to become content is simple! Focus on your assets and focus on others’ liabilities. Take your assets and help others with their liabilities. Spend your life doing that and you will find contentment because you will be content!
When you gripe you are focusing on your negatives and losing sight of your positives of life. In that condition you will never help any one. You selfishly think that no one has it as bad as you do. The truth is no one has it any worse or any better than any one else in life.
Say Amen instead of oh me! Sit with the shouting and praising crowd at church instead of cuddling up with the crowd that can’t wait to get out of church.
When a church member approaches you and says “You’ll learn”. I would suggest that you run as far away from them as you can! “You’ll learn” means they are focusing on the negatives of life. “You’ll learn” means they are tired of fighting for right! “You’ll learn” means they know about all the negatives and refuse to focus on the assets. “You’ll learn” means they do not want it to work. “You’ll learn” means they can’t get their way. “You’ll learn” means all they see is a half empty cup of life.
Focus on the positive, good report, virtuous things, pure things, the truth, the just things, the lovely things, and the good things. Think on these things! If you are content you can have contentment. If you are not content you will never posses contentment in life.