Steven Furtick - How To Be Content
"Thou shalt remember to rejoice". That staff member who took the offering at Ballantyne said he was forgetful. He said, "I tend to be forgetful. I forget my keys. I forget my wallet". That's not the worst thing you can forget. The worst thing you can forget is what he has done for you and how he has blessed you and kept you. Y'all look kind of forgetful today. Sometimes you come to church and you remember to brush your teeth but forget to bring your praise. You forget to stir up your spirit, and that's what the worship leaders do. The team does it. They say, "Come on, let's lift our hands". They're reminding you that God is worthy of your surrender.
Real maturity, real contentment comes when nobody has to remind you to rejoice. I didn't tell them this last night, but y'all are deeper. He just told them, "Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice". "Why did you say it again"? Because it's crazy how quickly you forget. It's interesting how selective your memory is, but a selective memory can actually work to your advantage if you remember in order to rejoice. When you evaluate any given day or any given period of time in your life… When you evaluate a year, if you come to the end of one year and the beginning of the next, you will make a movie in your mind of how this year went. Some scenes you will delete. Some scenes you will enhance. God has given you editing software in your spirit to choose what you call to your mind, and what you recall to your mind determines the revelation you will have and the faith you can walk in and the contentment you will enjoy.
Do you understand the power of this? In Hollywood they call it final cut. It means you can shoot the scenes, but somebody has to decide which ones go on the big screen. God has given you final cut over your life. When you open your mouth and bless the Lord at all times… "I'm not blessing him in spite of the battles; I'm blessing him because of the battles. That's what gave me proof and assurance". Paul said, "Oh yeah, thanks for the gift. I almost forgot. Thanks for the gift". I want you to watch, because Paul is awesome at theology, but he is terrible at thank you notes. His mom raised him right in a lot of ways. You know, tribe of Benjamin, Pharisee of Pharisees. Sent him off to study with Gamaliel. All that, but the boy needs some help on this thank you note. He's a human, right? He's not Jesus Christ. I know it's the Bible, but come on, Paul.
Listen to this. How would you like to receive this thank you note? "I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you sent me a little something". "No, it's cool, it's cool". He said, "Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it". See what he did? There was a period of silence where the people who should have been helping Paul weren't helping Paul, and he could have interpreted that in one of two ways. "They don't care about me. Nobody cares about me. Nobody is there for me. I loaned them money, and now I need some money". You know these little things you tell yourself. The interpretation. The assumption. How do you interpret silence?
Here's the key to contentment. It's the second key. You have to refuse to resent. I don't know whether Paul was in prison in Caesarea or in Rome, but I can tell you what prison he refused to live in: the prison of resentment. There is no prison like the prison of resentment. There are no windows; only bars. When you lock yourself into your situation… I'm looking at some of you right now, and I know enough about you to know you could have resented your situation. That's the good thing about being the pastor of the church and not some little guest speaker. I know what some of you could interpret your situation to mean. Paul said, "I choose to assume that you wanted to help me but couldn't". That's a decision, and it is a key to contentment. If you don't resist and refuse resentment on every level, you will be locked inside a prison of your mind's own design. This isn't just people.
Sometimes in life you're making decisions about how to view the support you were not given at a young age. There are two ways to view it. You can live in resentment or you can live in contentment. Those are your choices. You can say to yourself, "It wasn't right that I didn't have, and it wasn't cool that I didn't get, and I could be so much further along", but that is a prison called resentment. God wants his children free. You can look at your brothers like Joseph and say, "It doesn't matter why you threw me in the pit. God got me to Egypt anyway, and now I'm here to save your life, because I'm free". The only one really free was the one who was in prison. "He sent me to proclaim freedom to the captives". That's what Jesus said. What does that mean? I will not live another day in my life resenting what they did, what they said, what they didn't do, who I'm not, what I can't be. It's over. I refuse to live in resentment when Christ died to set me free. I'm done with this prison.
Thou shalt remember to rejoice, refuse to resent… You're going to love this one: Thou shalt appreciate all seasons. A little technical nuance. When he says, "You renewed your concern for me", it doesn't give the image that is behind the language. The Koine Greek is an expression that says, "You caused your concern to bloom or blossom again". Paul is saying, "There are seasons to life, and I made it through winter, and I'm grateful that spring is finally here". Do you see how important this is to discern the seasons of your life if you are going to live in a state of contentment? I had to learn this early as a pastor, because there are certain seasons that Jesus could preach and attendance would be down in church. Church attendance is seasonal. Well, the first year I didn't know that. The first year I thought the church was falling apart, but it was really just summer vacation.
"We love you, Pastor, but we're going to Disney World, and we will be back". It'll come back around. This is what Paul learned, but you have to live through enough seasons, especially some losing seasons. In sports they call it a rebuilding year. It's code for "We suck right now, but we're trying to do something about it". Let me put it in a really profound way: some seasons just suck. When you know it's just a season, when you know that, yes, right now the nights are long and the days are short, right now I'm lonely and I feel barren, but it's just a season… The worst thing you can do is to get stuck in a season in your mind that God is trying to bring you out of in your life. Paul says, "It was a long winter". Perhaps Paul wondered, "Do they care about me? Do they remember what I did for them? Do they have any loyalty whatsoever"? But he chooses to see it as a season. "And to everything there is a season: a time to be born, a time to die, a time to live, a time to plant, a time to uproot, a time to destroy".
There is a time that the ground must be fallow so it can be fertile again and sustain what it produces. It's a season thing. "I know how to have plenty, and I know how to be pruned". Both are growth. The key is to be as content in one season as the other. I often wonder if stuff really makes you more content or just makes you more insatiable. It's kind of weird, because it's easier sometimes to be content when you don't have something you want and you think you're going to get it one day, because in that season you can tell yourself, "I'll be content when…" But what about when you got it and the contentment didn't come with the package?
Just thinking with you here. I think the key, if you're going to survive the seasons of winter while waiting on spring to come and live in contentment… Here's the fourth one: Thou shalt keep a secret stash. Paul says, "I got your gift. Finally. Thanks for the gift. It's about time. No, I'm good. It's okay". Watch this. "I know you didn't have a chance. I know there was something that was keeping you from it. I choose to believe the best about you". Verse 11: "I am not saying this because I am in need…" This thank you note just gets worse and worse and worse. "I got your gift. It took a while. I didn't really need it". I think what he's saying is, "I had my own to live off of, and I wasn't waiting for you to give me something".
This is the best thing you can do if you go over to somebody's house for the first time and they're feeding you and you don't know about their culinary ability: Pre-eat. It's just a way to make sure that whatever they serve… You ought to come church full. That way, no matter who preaches or what they say… "I ate before I came". Oh, come on, magnify the Lord with me. Let us exalt his name together. "I got what you sent, and I appreciate it, but I didn't need it". Touch somebody and say, "It's nice, but I don't need it". It's nice to be appreciated, but I don't need to be appreciated to serve God. I've got my own stuff. I get high on my own supply. I have a secret stash. I have some Scriptures I can preach to myself. I have some songs I can sing all by myself. I have some truth I know down in my soul. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". It's not from me but it's in me. I have a secret stash.