Do you remember when The Rolling Stones made their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show in 1964? I was only nine years old, and watching Ed Sullivan was the last thing we did before it was bedtime — part of our family routine on Sundays that included Walt Disney and Bonanza.
I don’t think I’d heard of The Rolling Stones when they appeared that night, and I thought the pandemonium that erupted in the audience was crazy. To be honest I didn’t really care for the band much initially. I wasn’t into music yet and couldn’t understand why these guys were such the rage. The media called it “The British Invasion.” I thought that ended with the Revolutionary War.
It was a few years later, in 1967 or 1968 I think, that I really began to enjoy the music of the day. I had the Woodstock album and listened to it repeatedly, along with Elton John’s “Tumbleweed Connection”, Simon and Garfunkel’s “A Bridge Over Troubled Water”, and the Beatles’ “Let it Be.”
I also had “Jesus Christ Superstar”, and though a bit irreverent in places, I wonder if memorizing the album from incessant listening eventually led to the emergence of my faith in God’s Son. I just loved that album.
For many people when you mention “The Rolling Stones” the first song they think of is: “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” Released in 1965, it was number one for 14 weeks. “Satisfaction” is listed in Rolling Stone magazine as the number two song of all time, just behind Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone.” Mick Jagger said he wrote the words in about 10 minutes (not a bit surprising to me when considering the wealth of inspiration in those lyrics!) to a tune that came to Keith Richards in a dream. Jagger said “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” was “my view of the world, my frustration with everything.”
I think the core cause of anyone’s dissatisfaction is being ungrateful for the goodness around them. If we’d pause just long enough to consider our blessings, a corresponding sense of satisfaction arises within. The biblical term for this is “contentment.” 1 Timothy 6:6 says it this way: “Now godliness with contentment is great gain.” How cool is that?
So what then is contentment? One dictionary defines contentment as: “the state of being mentally or emotionally satisfied with things as they are.” Biblically it is evidenced by humility, the lack of avarice and greed, and by a desire to help others. It is not self-serving, but other-minded. And since one’s social status, wealth, power and popularity have no bearing on being contented, it is a condition available regardless of our haves or have-nots.
If we’re caught up in the compulsive covetousness of our culture however, we find that contentment is the one thing we can never have. “Keeping up with the Joneses” is never conducive to being content. Whatever pleasure there may be in getting ahead of others is a fleeting one at best; here today … where did it go? Covetousness is carnal, selfish, and ultimately can’t get you no satisfaction.
But contentment, on the other hand, is meant to be grasped and can be maintained indefinitely, even eternally.
Contentment has a caveat though – it is a learned trait. In the epistle to the church at Philippi, the Apostle Paul wrote a brief exposé on what contentment is: “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:11-13)
According to the description he gave in 2 Corinthians 11:23-29, we find that Paul endured a lot of hardship. He had been whipped on five different occasions, was beaten with rods three times, and was pelted with stones another time. He was shipwrecked three times, and had been terrorized by bandits, Jews, Gentiles, and false believers. He had gone without sleep, was familiar with hunger and thirst, and was acquainted to cold and nakedness. (Anybody want that job?)
Yet in the Philippian letter, which was written … get this … while he was in prison, he said he’d “learned the secret” to being content regardless of the circumstances. And Paul let us in on the secret when he said simply: “I can do all this through him (Christ) who gives me strength.”
Once we find that sweet spot of contentment in Jesus Christ, our gratitude will be consistent whether we are in a season of plenty or one of lack. That’s important to consider as we see the Thanksgiving holiday approaching next week. Be thankful and get some satisfaction.
Happy Giving Thanks Day!
What do you think? I’m available at firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week we’ll talk about why it’s truly better to give than to receive. Stay tuned.
Dave Hinman is Pastoral Elder at DOVE Church, Wilmington.