Did you know that last year people spent trillions of dollars on “TV and Toys” or simply put entertainment? Movies, dining, ATVs still pull in the bucks even when there are less bucks around.
Did you know that those under the age of twenty-five carry on average $1221.00 in indebtedness, not to be out done by the 35-54 group that owe $3050? Remember how we determine averages - take a group and add all their numbers together and divide by the number of people. So if the average debt for 35-54 group is what it is, knowing some owe nothing, then some must owe a bunch. All tolled and consumer debt last year, not counting mortgages and student loans, was 2.4 trillion dollars ($2,400,000,000,000).
Did you know that the average, there’s that average thing again, credit card debt is $7123.00? This usually means that people are spending that much more a year than they are taking in.
Did you know that 4 trillion dollars a year are on vacations taken by Americans? Most families will spend between $2500.00 and $3250.00 on a single 10-day vacation.
Did you know that 16-17 million new vehicles are sold in the US each year and that there are 254.4 million registered vehicles in our country? By the way as of 2012 we had a population of 313.9 million. By the way there are about 70 million people under driving age in the US.
Did you know that in 2013 the US had 103.9 cell phones per every 100 citizens or 327,577,529 phones for 310,866,000 people? Remember that population number includes babies that can’t even sit up yet let alone dial a cell phone.
Did you know that the average American home has 2.55 people living in it? Did you also know more televisions live in our homes than people do: 2.86 television sets?
It is easy to demonstrate how much we have as a nation. We are the richest in the world and according to a 2013 world study the poorest Americans live in more square footage and have more home furnishing than the average middle-class person living in Europe.
If such is the case, why do we also prescribe more anti-depressants, have more stress related diseases, and rank among the top nations in the world for property theft? The answer is found not in a lengthy study or shelves full of books. The answer is found in a word, and not even a very long one…discontent.
Webster defines content as “satisfied or satisfaction.” That’s easy enough to understand but seems anything but easy to implement. The word carries a ring of tranquility, peacefulness, the serene. It just sounds right. It does because it is and it is because it comes from God.
In the New Testament, God led a man to write a simple statement answering what seems to the haunting question, “How can I be content?” The man was the Apostle Paul and the words, written to a group of Christians who had helped him, are: “I am very happy in the Lord that you have shown your care for me again. You continued to care about me, but there was no way for you to show it. I am not telling you this because I need anything. I have learned to be satisfied with the things I have and with everything that happens. I know how to live when I am poor, and I know how to live when I have plenty. I have learned the secret of being happy at any time in everything that happens, when I have enough to eat and when I go hungry, when I have more than I need and when I do not have enough. I can do all things through Christ, because he gives me strength.”
Bookstore shelves are full of promises to make life peaceful and satisfying. Paul didn’t need a whole book but only a few words to do the same thing. He wasn’t coming to the issue uniformed and inexperienced. He knew the pain of hunger and the pleasant discomfort of being full. He knew what it was to sleep under the stars and in fine homes. At times he had plenty of money and at times worked hard just for his next meal. But most of all he knew how to be satisfied wherever God took him, with whatever God provided for him.
How did he do it? That answer was shorter than his description of what he did. He was satisfied in and by Jesus Christ. It was in Jesus that he found all he needed to know a full life; and it was through Jesus that he had the ability to know that Christ was all he needed.
A profound word tucked away in the last verse of Paul’s statement expresses the power of discontentedness. He said, “I can do all things through Christ…” In other words, if in Christ you can be content then there is nothing that with Christ you cannot overcome. If you can be satisfied, you can be and do anything. And, since you can do all things through Christ that presupposes that you are walking with Christ; you have given yourself to God and you want to be and do what He wants you to be and do.
So Paul is saying that if you want to live in contentedness you must live in Christ. If you do you will not find yourself digging and scratching to get all the things you can or try to entertainment yourself into satisfaction. And a wonderful byproduct of that is you will also not have to dig and scratch yourself out of the stranglehold of debt.
There is a whole book in the Bible given to help humanity understand that satisfaction can only be found in God. That book is Ecclesiastes. For the next several studies we will explore what God has to teach us about this through the experiences of one of the world’s richest and smartest men, a king named Solomon.