Sowing the Seeds of Satisfaction

Sowing the Seeds of Satisfaction

Grace United Methodist Church

September 13, 2009

Hebrews 13: 5-8

5Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” 6So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?” 7Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. 8Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Philippians 4: 11-13

11Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. 12I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. 13I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

I think it is fair to say that we have all experienced restlessness rather frequently in our lives. Sometimes we get restless waiting in line at the grocery store. Or maybe we get restless when we’ve got an appointment and the laundry isn’t quite finished drying. Perhaps we experience restlessness when we have something important to do the next day and we just can’t seem to stop thinking about it. And I think it’s fair to say when we get restless, we tend to stay restless for a while, as one thing always seems to lead to another.

Remember the story about the up-and-coming entrepreneur who was opening the door of his sleek new Jaguar when a truck roared by, hit it, and ripped the door off its hinges? The police quickly arrived at the scene and found the man jumping up and down in the street. He was shrieking to anyone and everyone who would listen about the horrible damage done to his precious automobile.

The stunned audience looked on as the police began talking to the man. “You wheeler-dealers are all so materialistic!” began the investigating officer, shaking his head in bewilderment. “You make me sick!”

“What’s your problem?” the driver quickly snapped back.

“You’re so worried about your precious Jag,” said the cop, “that you appear not to have noticed that your left arm was ripped off!”

“Oh no!” bellowed the man as he looked down at the grisly stump where his arm had been a few minutes before. “Where’s my Rolex?!?”[1]

We often get so caught up in the mundane and the materialistic that we miss the “big picture.” Saint Augustine’s words of so many years ago are still quite true today, “our hearts are restless until they find rest in God.” And yet, so often we seem to get restless in worry about fleeting matters. In recent years, we have witnessed a number of devastating natural disasters, including hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and wildfires. Even now a vast and costly wildfire ravages the forests around Los Angeles. Natural disasters remind us that everything in this world is temporary. This is why Jesus tells us to “Take care!…for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”[2] Yet our culture is constantly telling us that this is not true. The result is restlessness in our hearts. Despite the fact that we believe and trust in Jesus and know his words to be true, we still find ourselves devoting much of our time, talents, and resources to the acquisition of more stuff. We say that our lives do not consist in the abundance of our possessions, but we live as if they do.

I’m sure many of you have heard of Restless Leg Syndrome. This is a condition in which one has twitches and contractions in the legs; sometimes even to the point that it becomes disruptive to sleep and the regular patterns of life. Restless Heart Syndrome works in much the same way, but in the heart—or soul. The primary symptom of Restless Heart Syndrome, however, is restlessness or discontent; a complete dissatisfaction. We find that we are never really happy with anything. The moment we acquire something, we barely take time to enjoy it before we want something else. This is why the writer of Hebrews warns us to keep our lives free from the love of money, and encourages us to be content with what we have. As believers, trust in the material–investing our hearts in the temporary–is misplaced, and it is a contradiction of faith. When we do this, we are perpetually dissatisfied.

But would you believe that there is a certain restlessness and dissatisfaction that God intended us to have? God actually wired our hearts so that they would be dissatisfied with certain things, causing us to seek the only One who can fully satisfy us. There really is something to this idea of a God-shaped void in our lives. We are meant to yearn to know God more, to want more and more of God, to cultivate a deeper prayer life, to pursue justice and holiness with increasing passion, to love others more, and to grow in grace and wisdom and character each and every day. These are the seeds of satisfaction.

The problem is that the very things we should be satisfied and content with are those things with which we find ourselves hopelessly discontented. For example, we find ourselves dissatisfied with our stuff, our jobs, our churches, and even our families. These are the very things God has gifted us and blessed us with, and we are so often ungrateful. You can’t help but think that God must look upon us and feel the way we feel when we give someone we really care for a special gift and he or she asks for the gift receipt. It’s as if we’re saying to God, “I don’t like what you’ve given me God, and I want to trade it in and get something better than what you gave me.” Such thoughts sow dissatisfaction in our lives.

So how do we sow the seeds of satisfaction in our lives? In his letter to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul wrote of the “secret” to contentment. Paul says, “I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Like Paul, we too can learn to be satisfied in whatever circumstances we may find ourselves.

Of course, the greatest key to complete satisfaction, as Paul tells us, is to completely trust in God’s will and God’s love, having faith that we can “do everything through Christ who gives us strength.” The world tells us that satisfaction is found in ease and luxury and comfort and money. But this is precisely the stuff that gets in the way of our relationship with God and thus our ability to be satisfied! Paul has really hit on something big here when he tells us that contentment is found Christ and Christ alone. Jesus tells us that we are to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind…[and to] love your neighbor as yourself.”[3] When we seek God above all, when we pursue God with all our hearts, then we will know rest, we will know true satisfaction.

Certainly, that is a mighty task, but even the longest journey begins with a single step. And there are some “baby steps” we can take to begin sowing the seeds of satisfaction in our lives, even as we seek to continually grow in God’s grace. As Jesus tells us, “we cannot worship both God and mammon.” Mammon is stuff. So when we are about to amass more stuff, we might begin by asking the question, “How long will this make me happy?” Often, we buy something thinking it will make us happy. What we quickly realize is that happiness lasts about as long as it takes to open the box. We might be pleased and satisfied when we make the purchase, but the item does not continue to bring satisfaction over a period of time. The result is that many of the things we buy are simply not worth the expense. One solution to this is to try before you buy, but it is also helpful to ask the question, “for how long will this make me happy?” And to keep in mind that our ultimate happiness lies in God in Jesus Christ alone.

Another step we can take in sowing the seeds of satisfaction in our lives is to work at developing a grateful heart. Gratitude is essential if we are to be satisfied. In his first letter the Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul said that we are to “give thanks in all circumstances.” Jesus Christ has made a great sacrifice on our behalf. God has blessed our lives in great and abundant ways. A grateful heart recognizes that all of life is a gift and celebrates that. When we are truly grateful for the blessings of life, we can be content with what we have. Satisfaction comes when we spend more time giving thanks for what we have than thinking about what’s missing or wrong in our lives.

Another step in sowing the seeds of satisfaction in our lives is to cultivate simplicity. Satisfaction and simplicity go hand-in-hand. When we simplify our lives we are more able to be grateful for the blessings of life given by God. Here are some suggestions on how we might simplify our lives. We can set realistic goals to reduce our own personal consumption and the production of waste in our lives. I’m sure there are many ideas we have and work towards, but perhaps there are some other ways we can reduce consumption in our own lives. It’s also helpful to use something up before buying something new.  Before making a purchase, the discipline of asking two questions, “Do I really need this?’ and “Why do I want this,” will help determine the true motivation of making any purchase. When we think through our reason for purchasing an item, we may discover that our motivation is not a good one. The discipline of thinking through the way we use our resources will help us be grateful for what we have, and continually offering our thanks to God will help us stay focused on the big picture. When we can do this, we will know more complete satisfaction in our lives.

Of course, sowing the seeds of satisfaction requires great self-control. Simplifying our lives requires disciplines and asks us to make the tough decisions at times. But when we discipline our lives in relationship to God’s will for our lives and the entire creation, we begin to know true satisfaction. The self-control and discipline that develops as we seek God’s will for our resources becomes a wall around our hearts that protects us from ourselves, from temptation, and from sins that are deadly and can ultimately destroy us. Discipline is about forgoing instant gratification by stopping to think about the True Source of our satisfaction.

So the question is this: will you sow the seeds of dissatisfaction, or will you sow the seeds of satisfaction. You and you alone determine how your garden will grow. If you decide that “life does not consist in the abundance of possessions,” and that you can “be content with whatever you have,” then you are sowing the seeds of satisfaction. Choosing satisfaction means that we look to God as our Source and Provider, giving thanks to the God who gives generously to us, and living our lives generously in return.

[1] (accessed September 9, 2009).

[2] Luke 12: 15

[3] Matthew 22: 37, 39

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