The Wisdom of Contentment and Community

By David Robinson / February 28, 2016

Series Ecclesiastes: Life Under the Sun

Context Westminster Chapel Toronto

Topic Unity In Christ

Scripture Ecclesiastes 4:4-16

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Speaker:  David Robinson   

Scripture:  Ecclesiastes 4:4-16

Sermon Notes:

  1. Both contentment and community are biblical wisdom ideals.
  2. Solomon warns about two sinful and destructive responses to work: on one hand envy and greed motivate the workaholic; on the other hand laziness leads to want.
  3. The person who is motivated by envy and greed sees others’ possessions with an evil eye.
  4. In our culture, we are constantly bombarded with incitements to envy the possessions of other people.
  5. Envy results in an evil obsession with what our neighbor is doing. Consequently our work becomes tainted with a desire to one-up our neighbour.
  6. Another type of person is endlessly seeking to accumulate stuff for its own sake. The result is slavery to greed.
  7. Sloth is not simply laziness, but it is failure to do what you’re supposed to be doing.  It is self-destructive.
  8. The millennial generation has a sense of entitlement and is generally not hardworking (cf. Prov. 26:16).
  9. The Puritans said that religion is an engagement of duty to be the best at whatever we are called to so that God may be honoured by our faithful, disciplined work.
  10. Envy, greed and sloth are all destructive: envy and greed blind you to other people and their needs. We need to work with the awareness that we are serving the Lord (Col. 3:23-24) and caring for practical needs (Eph. 4:28). Sloth leads to economic ruin (cf. Prov. 24:30-33).
  11. Our work ought to be motivated by a love of God and a love of man.
  12. The wiser way, the better way, is contentment; like Paul, we need to trust God’s provision for us (cf. Phil. 4:12; Matt. 6:25-34).
  13. Contentment comes down to a matter of trust that God will take care of us (Heb. 13:5-6). Trusting God is the first remedy to envy, greed and sloth.
  14. We are social beings and we were meant to be in community. It is not good to be alone (Ecc. 4:9-12).
  15. In community we offer mutual encouragement. (cf. 1 Sam. 23:16). As we face trials we need someone to encourage us and to apply God’s word to our lives (cf. 2 Cor. 7:6).
  16. We are commanded to participate in the warmth of Christian community and fellowship (Heb. 10:24-25).
  17. In this world we will face hostility so we need the community of believers to provide encouragement, which in turn leads to confidence and boldness.
  18. We need to pray together and practice hospitality – be of one heart and mind (John 13:34).
  19. The church is a community where people are transformed and come to experience and share God’s love.
  20. People outside the church need to receive the welcome of God in Christ.
  21. Get to know your neighbours. Welcome others as Christ has welcomed us.

Application Questions:

  1. How can we avoid temptations to envy, greed, and sloth?
  2. Does your social media presence represent a temptation to envy?  Or might you be prompting others to envy?
  3. What was the Puritan perspective on work?
  4. What is the secret to contentment?
  5. Why is community important?  How can we encourage others this week? How can we stir up love and good works?
  6. How can we remedy the ignorance which is often behind the hostility of our culture toward the church?
  7. Plan to exercise gospel hospitality this week.