Sunday, June 2, 2013 am            Pure in Heart Index

Qualities of a Pure Heart – 5

     We have been examining the pure heart this year.  As we continue our study of the qualities of a pure heart, today we want to notice more qualities.

 I.                    A pure heart is Content

a.        Contentment means, “to be sufficient, to be possessed of sufficient strength, to be strong, to be enough for a thing” (Vine’s)

                                                   i.      Words associated with contentment – satisfied, moderation, sufficient, enough.  It is the antithesis of one who is dissatisfied and covetous. 

                                                  ii.      It is an attitude of mind (and thus a quality of the heart) – it is not about what you have or don’t’ have.  It is about how you view your current state of affairs.  Are you satisfied?  Are you accepting of whatever situation you are dealing with, without complaining about? 

                                                iii.      It does NOT mean laziness or complacency.    Being content should NOT be confused with such things.  Laziness is a refusal to act and is strongly condemned (Prov. 6:10-11, 20:13, 18:9, 2 Thess. 3:6-7, 10, Heb. 6:12, etc.).  Complacency is indifference toward your current status – also condemned (Rom. 12:11, Rev. 3:15-18, James 4:17, etc.)

                                                iv.      Contentment is striving to be your BEST within the circumstances you find yourself.

b.       Problems with a lack of contentment – we live in a very discontent society today.  And it is fueled by our abundance, our materialistic attitudes and our media.  We have everything at our disposal. 
We have gadgets that are designed to make life easier, more efficient, and more satisfying (or so we think).  But the truth is that because we have so much, we are conditioned to want even more.  We are even told that we deserve it!  Is it any wonder that contentment is such a struggle?
Contentment can lead to jealousy & envy, debt, worldliness, a sour disposition – bitterness, etc.   All these attributes are contrary to God’s word.

c.        The Bible and being content

There are 3 main passages in the New Testament that deal with contentment

                                                   i.      Phil. 4:10-13 – writing from prison in Rome, Paul is grateful of the ability of these brethren to support him (again).  Paul is writing this letter to encourage these brethren who are facing difficulties as they stand for the truth.    It is a letter encouraging joy, even in troubling times.
Contentment is a part of being able to rejoice always (Phil. 4:4).
I have learned in whatever state I am to be content.” The word content in this verse actually means to be satisfied in whatever circumstances one finds himself.   Vine’s defines the word as, “sufficient in oneself”.
It is interesting that while Paul is appreciative of their fellowship (and needing it), he begins by saying, “Not that I speak in regard to need.”  The point is that even though he DID need relief, he would have made it without it, that is, he would have made the BEST of his circumstance even if the brethren at Philippi were unable to help him.   That is the attitude of contentment.

Notice also WHEN he needed to be content (vs.12): When abased (lowly and humbling circumstances) AND in abundance.  How often do we think about contentment in our abundance?  In some ways, that is when it is MORE challenging!  Ecclesiastes 5:10, “He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; Nor he who loves abundance, with increase. This also is vanity.  Think of all the warnings of wealth, which is addressed in our next text.

                                                  ii.      1 Tim. 6:6-8 – godliness with contentment is great gain.
In a context where Paul is warning young Timothy to be weary of false teachers, noting that many “suppose that godliness is a means of gain”, we find our admonition.
We have discussed godliness in previous lessons, a word meaning one who is pleasing to God and striving to serve Him.  In many of the traits we have discussed, godliness is THE RESULT of developing them (cf. 2 Pet. 2:5-7).
In this text we are told, “godliness with contentment is GREAT GAIN” (of great value).
We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out (vs. 7) – obviously he is speaking of material possessions, stuff!  And it is true, there is no U-Haul behind the hearse, and the treasures buried with the Pharaoh’s were left behind as the body decayed.  Friends, that is why it is FUTILE to put your trust in the wealth of this world (1 John 2:17, Matt. 6:19-21, etc.)
With food and clothing, be content – the basics – we call them, “food, clothing and shelter.”  The point to be made here is that there is actually very little that we really have to have to survive.  IF we didn’t have certain things it would make life more difficult, but are they really necessary?  Consider our technology in this!  Technology is good, and it seems that in the first century Christians used whatever developments were at their disposal, but we can become so dependent on it that it becomes a distraction.  NOTE: I am not saying to do away with technology (I actually believe such would be foolish), but as with everything else, put it in its proper domain and BE CONTENT with whatever you have.
WARNING: 9-10 – Those who desire to be rich (i.e. they are NOT content) “fall into temptation and a snare (a trap) and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.” 
VS 10, warns about the love of money.  One who loves money will NOT be content!

                                                iii.      Heb. 13:5, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; Be content with such things as you have…  In this text we are warned against covetousness (desirous or greedy for wealth, to lust after things).  Rather be content with what you have.

Other passages with relevance

                                                   i.            2 Cor. 9:8 – “sufficiency” same word as 1 Tim. 6:6.  Dealing with giving bountifully and cheerfully, Paul notes that God is able to make all grace abound (i.e. to bless us accordingly), “that you always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.”

                                                  ii.            Matt. 16:26, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?  Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

                                                iii.            Luke 3:14, “Be content with your wages” – a message from John the Baptist to soldiers about righteous living.

                                                iv.            Prov. 30:7-9, “Two things I request of You (Deprive me not before I die): Remove falsehood and lies far from me; Give me neither poverty nor riches— Feed me with the food allotted to me; Lest I be full and deny You, And say, “Who is the LORD?” Or lest I be poor and steal, And profane the name of my God.”

                                                  v.            Prov. 24:19-20, “Do not fret because of evildoers, Nor be envious of the wicked; For there will be no prospect for the evil man; The lamp of the wicked will be put out.”

                                                vi.            Prov. 15:16, “Better is a little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure with trouble.”

d.       Developing a content heart

                                                   i.      IT is something that is learned – Phil. 4:11-13, Paul said, “I have LEARNED in whatever state I am to be content.”  You have to work at it and make up your mind to be content.

                                                  ii.      Count your many blessings – not only physically, but also spiritually. 

                                                iii.      Realize what is really important.  After a disaster, sometimes perspective changes.  Suddenly, all that stuff isn’t important.  Having your family safe and sound is.  Being alive is!

                                                iv.      Give thanks – gratitude to God is a humbling experience.

                                                  v.      Learn to trust God and appreciate Him – His providential care, His grace, and goodness, etc.
Note also Phil. 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  Friends you CANNOT outdo God in blessings!

                                                vi.      Live within your means – this is the application.  Credit is often a destroyer of contentment.  It makes getting what you cannot afford right now (which is hardly ever the bare necessities) attainable.  And when you realize you can get more, with more credit, you do.  The problems are many!


 II.                  A pure heart is Unselfish – Luke 9:23

a.        What is selfishness?  Selfishness is placing one’s own interests over that of others.   It is associated with vanity, greed, hatred, lust, etc.
Unselfishness is placing the interest of others over your own.  It is being willing to share what you have.

b.       Problems with being selfish. How often do we find ourselves actually thinking about ourselves?  Even in helping others, it can be with self-serving motives (Luke 18:12 – the Pharisee; Acts 5:1-11 - Ananias and Sapphira; 1 Cor. 13:3 – giving your possessions without love, etc.).  
Do we ever find ourselves tearing down others so that we can build ourselves up?  Selfishness is often a contributor to division, stagnation in a congregation, & unfulfilled works and needs in the church. 
It can hinder prayers (Jas. 4:3).  It can adversely affect a marriage and family relationships.
Selfishness is a factor behind one’s lack of self-control and sin.  He simply doesn’t want to give it up.
Selfishness is one of the works of the flesh – Gal. 5:19-21 – selfish ambitions.
It is described as a product of the wisdom of this world – James 3:13-16.
James 4:1 – wars and fights comes from your desires for pleasure and your lust.

c.        The Bible and unselfishness

                                                   i.      Examples –

1.       God – John 3:16 – God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.

2.       Jesus – John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for His friends.  He left heaven to come to this earth to reveal God to us.

3.       Paul – as you examine his life you see one willing to give it all up for Christ (Phil. 3:7-9) and for his brethren (cf. 2 Cor. 12:15).

4.       Barnabas – Acts 4:36-37, had land and sold it and laid the money at the apostle’s feet to help needy saints.

5.       2 Corinthians 8:1-5 – the brethren in Macedonia, in their deep poverty, they gave to help brethren in Judea who had needs.

                                                  ii.      Phil. 2:3-4, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”

                                                iii.      James 3:17 – contrasting the wisdom of this world, the wisdom from above is “willing to yield.”

                                                iv.      1 Cor. 13:4, Love “does not seek its own”.

                                                  v.      Rom. 15:1-2, “We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification.”

                                                vi.      Heb. 13:16, “But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”

                                               vii.      1 Tim. 6:18 the rich are commanded to do good, be rich in good works, ready to give and willing to share.

                                             viii.      Give to those who cannot give back – Luke 14:12-14 – when you give a feast, invite the poor, maimed, lame and blind, for they cannot repay you, but God takes note.

d.       Developing an unselfish heart

                                                   i.      Consider the greatest giver – God.  Where would we be if God were selfish?

                                                  ii.      Strive to think about others – it is a command! We need to do this as we consider the impact of our actions and decision, but also simply being willing to share!

                                                iii.      Realize the true value of stuff!  It WILL burn up!

                                                iv.      Realize that life is not about you.  The Christian is a servant, both of God and others. 

                                                  v.      Start giving  - you just have to do it.  Lay by in store as you ought to, to the church.  Look for opportunities to do good for others.   Be willing to share you possessions.

NOTE: This is not to say we are to act foolishly in giving away what we have, but we still need to give!

                                                vi.      Thought: Is there a sense in which we do need to think about ourselves? Absolutely – “Save yourselves” (Acts 2:40) “Work out your own salvation.” (Phil. 2:12) 
In our lives we are striving to prepare for heaven.  That is our ultimate goal.  Don’t let ANYONE or ANYTHING keep you from that goal.  If you miss heaven, you’ve missed it all.  BUT, our reward in heaven comes from being selfless toward God and others.  Even to  the point of giving up your life for Him.

And thus we can see more qualities of the pure heart.  What about you?  As you examine your life, are you content and unselfish?  Perhaps you need to work on these things.  If so, make it a goal to serve others.