Sermon: "The Tenth Word: Contentment" The Ten (Part 10 of 10) by Randy Roberts
Pastoral Welcome: Darold Retzer
Children's Feature: Shawna Campbell
Scripture Reading: Exodus 20:17, Philippians 4:10-13 TNIV read by Carly Leggitt and Logan Villarreal
Television game shows can be fun to watch and to vicariously play! When we had the opportunity to do so, my daughter, Miranda, and I used to watch one that was built on the following premise: as contestants successfully answered the questions necessary to navigate each level, the amount of money they could potentially win increased. However, contestants choosing to go farther and then answering wrong lost everything they had won up to that point in in the game. Time and again, Miranda and I would say to the contestant, “STOP! You’ve won a lot already! Just walk away!”
But they never listened to us. And, often, they would end up losing every penny of the very large amount they already had in their pocket (so to speak). Miranda and I agreed each time it happened—it was all driven by greed. It was driven by the refusal to be satisfied with what they already had, driven by the desire to have just a little bit more.
Such is the nature of the desire that underlies the prohibition found in the Tenth Word: “You shall not covet” (Exodus 20:17, TNIV). According to the dictionary, the word covet means “to desire wrongfully, inordinately, or without due regard for the rights of others: [as in] to covet another’s property.” To covet means that we are driven—motivated—by desire for something that is beyond what we rightfully already possess. Another word for it might be greed.
How ought we to respond to that? Well, a wholesome virtue exists that can empower us to defeat the temptation to covet—the temptation of greed— and that virtue is called contentment. What is contentment? Epictetus, the Greek philosopher who lived in the first and second century, helped us when he said, “Contentment comes not so much from great wealth as from few wants.” It’s a realization shared by many others since the time of Epictetus, but not lived out by very many of us. James Londis posits that the contentment which underlies the tenth word is actually the culmination of all the other commandments. In other words, if I am content with the true God, I will not go looking for what false gods have to offer. If I am content with my spouse, I will not look for love elsewhere. If I am content with what I have, I will not steal.
As we come, then, to the end of this series, my wish is simple: May God give you true and deep and lasting contentment.