A luxury car, the latest handbag, a ‘larger’ diamond ring, a sumptuous meal at a posh restaurant – they can all lead to a sense of contentment… or can they?

Contentment is one of the most precious gifts we can experience and one of the most difficult to manufacture. In our materialistic world we can invest a great deal in trying to attain happiness for ourselves and for the people we love. Often in the pursuit of joy we focus on precisely the wrong things, we can end up feeling even more discontented than when we first started.

We've all been tempted to search for happiness through possessing things, buying unnecessary luxuries or striving to meet impossible goals. Or we can spend hours imagining a future - planning a day out or a treat only for our expectations to be disappointed or for our appetite for pleasure to be dulled by over-stimulation.

Jesus had a better understanding of how to find contentment and he spoke about this in the series of sayings that we know as the ‘beatititudes.’ He locates contentment not in the search for personal satisfaction but in an attitude of trust in God and in the practical service of other people. So He said, ‘happy are the pure in heart, for they shall see God’ and ‘Happy are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled.’

What makes these sayings of Jesus even more powerful is that they were not only words that He taught in a sermon but that they were made real in the way that He lived. Jesus showed people the attractive peace and integrity that comes from putting the service of God and others before everything else.

God of wholeness You long for us to find contentment in our lives. Lead us away from all selfishness and help us to know the true freedom and happiness that comes from giving ourselves more generously in the love and service of others. Amen.

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