There are people who are generally happy and content in whatever situation they may be in. When I look at their situation, the situation is not very good, and yet they’re still happy and very content. But there are also people who are never content, who never feel content. They’re never satisfied and their don’t feel a sense of fulfillment in life. If other people had what they had, then they would have been overjoyed, but somehow these people don’t seem to find satisfaction in life. I wonder whether that is a symptom of this modern world. Maybe it is a result of having too much, too many things. They don’t give us satisfaction and contentment. We have so much, beyond our basic needs, but still we are not very happy. And I find people very angry, very dissatisfied. When I drive, I ask myself, why are they so angry? The way they drive is very angry driving and they just, are not patient. There’s no deep seeded satisfaction. And then Prophet Haggai, a long time ago, already saw this condition. He said, you eat, but you never have enough. You drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. How accurate, no matter how much we eat, we don’t get satisfaction. That’s a pretty accurate description of many people in our generation. And this is what Haggai said in the next first verse: you earn wages and put them into bag with holes. How accurately he saw that, what a good image, we make all the effort, but it’s like putting everything into a bag with holes.
Emptiness of modern life
Sometimes our life is like a bag with a big hole. No matter what we do, we have this huge emptiness, huge whole in our existence. This contentment it’s a spiritual condition. It is not because we don’t have enough. Having this much and still be unable to be content, the problem is that nothing in the world can satisfy us. Having this much and we are still not content, that is sad because it means nothing in the world can really satisfy us. Last Tuesday, Hong Kong Presbytery asked me to do a lecture and the topic they gave me was happy ministry. They think that I’m doing very happy ministry, which is true. I think I am. I’m doing happy ministry. But I told them this: there’s no such thing as happy ministry that exists separately from ministry itself. When you do ministry that makes you happy. And ministry does not belong to professional ministers. We are all called to the ministry. And when we live a life with a heart of doing ministry for others, we become happy. So there is no such thing as happy ministry. But when we do live our life with the attitude and heart of doing ministry for others, we become happy.
Life of Happiness
That’s the secret of happiness. We are called. Everyone is called to the ministry of each other. That’s why the Protestant motto is a priesthood of all. Everyone is a priest. Last Thursday, Miyaeng called me to come and pray for her father at the hospital. So I went and spent some time with her and prayed for her father. I read psalm 23 but when I was reading it, I don’t know why, but somehow I saw lots of emotion on his face. He was kind of unconscious, but I saw it so clearly and that it put tears in my eyes. So I, I had to stop in the middle of it. Even though he was a very strong man, strong willed man, he was so soft and so good to ministers at this church. They decided to take him off life support on Friday. The next day, the whole family gathered and that’s what he wanted while he was alive. And the whole family gathered together, including grandchildren. And we all gathered around, had that last worship together. I lead the worship and the Reverend Chung and I left first as the family members remained. And then they all said goodbye to their father and grandfather. And then they took out the life support. When I came home, I got a text from Miyeang that her father passed away. That is what ministries is: rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. That’s how you’re supposed to live, this one life is all about. Life is not about competition. Life is not about winning. Life is not about just getting money. Life is about helping each other. Life is about supporting each other. Doesn’t matter, who they are? We are called to the ministry to each other. Saint Paul learned that secret of ministry from Jesus Christ. That’s why he was happy. Not because he had a lot, but because he could do something good for other people. In that he learned the secret of being happy and being content. That’s why he said rejoice and he said, I’ll say it again, rejoice. But when he said that he was in prison, during that time there was not a proper judicial system, so he didn’t know what tomorrow will bring. They may order to kill him. So he was in prison. He wasn’t sure about his future, about his life and death. And also, because he was in prison, all the other people said look at him, see that is the gospel that he preached. But ultimately he was caught in a prison, arrested in prison. So they all mocked him, criticized him. But In that situation, he said: rejoice
Minister each other
Being in prison, not knowing whether I will live tomorrow and being criticized by other people; These may be reasons for us to be unhappy, but they were not reasons for Saint Paul to be on unhappy. And if these things are not reasons for being unhappy, then there is nothing in the world that can make Saint Paul unhappy. Nothing in the world can make Saint Paul unhappy. That’s why Saint Paul said this: Not that I’m referring to being in need, for I’ve learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty in any and all circumstances. I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. I can do all things, meaning I can be in any circumstance and still be content. That’s what he meant. And right after that, he said: in any case, it was kind of you to share my distress. In other words, they minister to him. Not only did he minister to them, but they ministered to St. Paul. That’s what life is all about, ministering to each other, being with those who suffering After the presentation of Reverend Choe last week, there were a lot of complaints and all kinds of things going on – not much in ESM, but in KSM. A few people sent me a texts saying: Reverend it’s hard, isn’t it? Cheer up. Be courageous, be good. Your message always inspires me. These kind of texts come to me. We are ministering to each other in spite of the situation.
Powerful things are also dangerous things
I know it’s a very difficult topic that we are dealing with. In today’s passage Saint Paul said: but if we have food and clothing, we will contend with this, but those who want to be rich, fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. So true. If you try to be rich, if you fall into desire to be rich, that’s what will happen. That’s what will happen. And he said for the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, Not money. Love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. We have to listen to it very very seriously. This is the word of God. Money is a powerful thing. It can do so much for us. It gives us comfort, luxury and security, and it gives us confidence, sense of worth and privilege. That’s why people love money. But remember what is very powerful can be also very dangerous. If it isn’t a powerful, it’s not dangerous, but what is so powerful can also be very dangerous. You know, Abraham and Lot, they had conflict and difficulties, so they cannot stay together. So they decided to go separate ways. So Abraham told Lot, his nephew, – Go, wherever you go and take the possession of the land. If you take the right side, I’ll take the left side. If you take the left side, I will take the right side. So you choose first. And then I’ll choose whatever is leftover. And Lot looked around. Oh! that land, that fertile good land. So he chose that land. But thing is, what looked good to Lot also looked good to everybody else. There were Kings around that land that tried to possess that land and it ultimately became a battlefield and Lot had to leave.
Ultimately, what is so powerful, what is so popular, can be also very dangerous. Yes, money can do so much for us, but it is also very dangerous. That’s why Jesus strongly warned against the love of money. He said, no one can serve two masters for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. You cannot serve both. Saint Paul said to the rich: as for those who in the present age are rich. Commend not to be haughty or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Saint Paul taught us then how to live. It is to do good, To be rich in good works, generous, and be ready to share. That’s a good life, not following after the money, but following after doing good in life with whatever we have. Being content comes from the abundance of our heart. And that abundance of heart is the generosity. Let us live with generosity. Now with the fear of scarcity, God will provide us with all our needs. That is not something that we need to worry about. All my life God has provided me with many, many good things. I didn’t have to worry about those things. When I first went into ministry, the first thing that came into my mind was: am I going to survive? But last 30 some years, God has provided me with many, many good things beyond my expectation. Always think about doing ministry. Always think about doing good, be generous. That should be our lifestyle.