Sermon: March 1, 2009

2 03 2009

I have learned to be content with whatever I have.

 

                                    Philippians 4:11

 

           

 

            “You need to talk to that son of yours.  He has got a real attitude today.”  Often times those were the words that greeted my father when he came in the house after a long day of work.  “You need to talk to that son of yours.  He has got a real attitude today.”  And guess which is true.  Do you think my mother was talking about my brother Bob, the good son, or Alan?  Second, do you think that my mother meant that that day I had just been the perfect son and that my father needed to go into my room and compliment me on what a fine boy I had been that day?

            There were many times when my parents would go in for a parent/teacher conference and one of the things that they would often hear is, “Your son is very smart.  His work is way above average.  However, sometimes he can get a real attitude.”  Now, of course, you know what that means – I was very smart – and I was always a joy to be around.  Right?  Wrong!

            Today we want to focus our attention on the importance of ATTITUDE.  Jim Tressel in his book, The Winner’s Manual says, “A good attitude can overcome some other limitations, but even great talent can’t overcome the wrong attitude.”  St. Paul says to us, “I have learned to be content with whatever I have.”  St. Paul is talking about attitude there.  And, I think that what we hear St. Paul saying is that the right attitude is important.  We all need to develop the right attitude.  And I am hear to tell you this morning that I think that what St. Paul is telling us that there are three parts to having the right attitude:

Gratitude – Humility – Enthusiasm.

GRATITUDE – Have you ever known someone who is unhappy no matter what they have.  If they have a car, they are unhappy because it is not a new car.  If they have a new Ford, they are unhappy because it is not a Lexus.  If they have a job, they are unhappy because they are only making $25,000/year.  If they get a raise to $50,000, they are unhappy because they should be making $100,000.  There are some people who are unhappy no matter what they have – no matter where they live – no matter what’s going on in their life.  They are always wishing that they would be some place else – imaging that if they were only there – doing that kind of thing – being that kind of person – having those kind of friends – that they would be happy.  The problem is that no matter where they were, they would always be unhappy.  It is a matter of having an Attitude of Gratitude.

St. Paul says, “I am content with whatever I have.”  That is an Attitude of Gratitude.  St. Paul looked at his life and saw where he had been and saw where God had taken him.  Why he had been a persecutor of Christians.  He was on the fast track to hell.  Now, by the grace of God, he was a child of God.  Now he was on his way to heaven.  Now he was being given the opportunity to share this Good News with others.  And in the process God was going to give him everything that he needed.  Not everything that he wanted, but everything that he needed.

Do you have a Attitude of Gratitude?  Do you live in the moment?  Do you wake up every morning – glad to be alive – looking forward to the blessings that are in store for you that day?  Do you spring from your bed and out of the house because you can hardly wait to see what God has in store for you today?  And you feel that way because you know that you are one of the luckiest people on the planet – because God so loved you that He gave His only begotten Son  – because God has promised you that He would be with you always even unto the end of time – because you know that His Grace is always sufficient.

HUMILITY – Have you ever been around people who are constantly reminding you of how wonderful they are?  Don’t you just love serving on a committee where someone is constantly reminding you that if weren’t for them nothing would get done?  How about the woman at work who tells every body who will listen how this place would go out of business in a heartbeat if she ever quite?  Don’t you just love being around those kind of people?

St. Paul says in his letter to the Philippians: “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

I remember the first time that I preached a sermon.  After the service, I asked my supervisor what he thought of my sermon.  He said that the sermon was marvelous – a great sermon.  There was only one thing missing.  The six foot mirror in front of the pulpit.  His point was that I was preaching to show everybody how wonderful I was – how smart I was.  I needed to remember that the sermon needs to be about the people.  That was a lesson for me in humility.  If we are humble, Paul tells us, then we can see others, even as God sees others, and then we will have the Christ-like attitude.  Then we will have the ability to love others even as God loves us – unconditionally.  And that, my friends, is humility.

And finally ENTHUSIASM.  You know, I actually looked this word up in the dictionary, and what I discovered is that the word comes from the Greek, entheos, which literally means “full of spirit, full of God.”  Are you full of God?  Do you attack everything before you – your job – your family – your marriage – your friendships – your relationship with God – with enthusiasm – full of spirit, full of God.  You know, I love being around enthusiastic people – they are just aglow – aren’t they?  Enthusiastic people seem to have a glow about them – perhaps because they are going a hundred miles an hour.  But they’re playing with their whole hearts – with the power of God – and doing it constantly.  I just love being around those kind of people.  They suck me in.  I catch their enthusiasm.  And before you know it I am attacking everything at a hundred miles an hour.  Believing that by Grace of God I can do anything.  A wise man once said that there are three kinds of people: 1) there are those who make things happen; 2) there are those who watch things happen; 3) there are those who say, “What happened?”  Which are you?  People who are filled with the Spirit of God make things happen, because they know that God has given them their talents and their abilities – and the time in which to do it.  So they are the ones who want to get busy spreading His love and His joy  and His grace – for as long as they can.  Those are people who have enthusiasm.

This morning I am going to leave you with this bit of wisdom:

I AM ONLY ONE, BUT I AM ONE.

I CAN’T DO EVERYTHING, BUT I CAN DO SOMETHING.

AND WHAT I CAN DO, I OUGHT TO DO.

AND WHAT I OUGHT TO DO, BY THE GRACE OF GOD, I SHALL DO.

 

Now that’s somebody with an attitude!

 

Amen!

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