On the Other Side of the Fence

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Text: Philippians 4:4-9


I.         It is so easy, so tempting to look at what someone else has accomplished and think “That could have been me.”

            A.        When you are in school, have you ever caught yourself thinking, “I can’t wait until I have a job. None of this homework business for me!” But then the adults are thinking, “I can’t wait until I retire and have some free time.”

            B.        Kids can’t wait to get out on their own, so they can do as they please. Young people on their own want the companionship of someone else and can’t wait to get married, but some married people spend their time longing to be free and single again.

II.        The problem is a lack of contentment in our lives

            A.        We aren’t happy with things as they are. We’re convinced that we won’t be happy, that we can’t be happy, until some things change in our situation.

            B.        How different is Paul’s instruction to Timothy - I Timothy 6:6-8

            C.        In whatever state - Philippians 4:10-13

III.       It is a problem of envy

            A.        Envy is a desire for what other people have

            B.        Sometimes we envy the wrong person - Proverbs 3:31

                        1.         We see what the person has, but we ignore how he achieved those things

                        2.         Do we really want to cause others harm to get the same for ourselves? - Proverbs 23:17-18

            C.        We don’t realize the effect it has on our life - Proverbs 14:30

            D.        Envy is putting yourself ahead of others - James 3:13-16

                        1.         It is the opposite of meekness where you have no concern for yourself - Philippians 2:3-4

IV.      Combating the problem

            A.        Count your blessings

                        1.         In the song, “Count Your Blessings” by Johnson Oatman, Jr., “When you look at others with their lands and gold, Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold; Count your many blessings, money cannot buy Your reward in Heaven, nor your home on high.”

                        2.         Every good gift comes from heaven - James 1:17

                                    a.         Are we not paying attention to what God has given us?

                                    b.         Are we only focused on what we think we do not have?

                        3.         Blessings for which to be thankful

                                    a.         A home to come to each night

                                    b.         Someone to greet you when you come home, family, spouse

                                    c.         A job where you can use your abilities.

                                    d.         A paycheck to purchase what you need

                                    e.         Brethren with whom you can worship

                                    f.         Things to laugh about and friends to laugh with

                        4.         When you count your blessings, it become overwhelmingly obvious that we have no need to envy what others have.

            B.        Be active

                        1.         Idleness leaves us time to feel sorry for ourselves - I Timothy 5:13-15

                        2.         Take advantage of opportunities - Galatians 6:9-10

                        3.         Let people see God through you - Matthew 5:16

            C.        Ask

                        1.         When there is a true need, God will answer - Matthew 6:8

                        2.         Instead of getting worked up over a matter, bring it to God - Philippians 4:6

                        3.         Sometimes the answer is “no,” but even then we can learn contentment - II Corinthians 12:7-10

V.        With these we shall be content

            A.        Will anyone have everything? Of course not.

            B.        It is not a question of what you don’t have. It is a matter of what will you do with the things you do have: your talent, your time, your opportunities

            C.        Make the most of what you have - Ephesians 5:15-17

            D.        Talk to the lost - Colossians 4:5-6

            E.        That you may lack nothing - I Thessalonians 4:9-12

                        1.         Not always here on earth, but the treasure we lay up in heaven

                        2.         Are you lacking something? Perhaps salvation or the peace of knowing your Lord?

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