Summary: Contentment is illusive within our culture. How can you find it? Contentment is something God must teach us. Being content with our circumstances comes from God’s enabling strength.
Have you been content in all of the circumstances you have faced? Paul knew how to be content whether he had plenty or whether he was in need. He discloses the secret in our text.
As we know, the answer lies in the strength of God. Because of God’s strength Paul was enabled to focus on what he was supposed to do, not on what he felt he should have. Paul had his priorities straight, and he knew God would sustain him and supply his needs. Paul had detached himself from the non-essentials so that he could concentrate on the eternal.
Often the desire for more or better possessions is really a longing to fill an empty place in a person’s life. To what are you drawn when you fill empty inside? How can you find true contentment? The answer lies in your position, your perspective, your priorities, and your source of power.
I. YOUR POSITION, 10.
II. YOUR PERSPECTIVE, 11.
III. YOUR PRIORITIES, 12.
IV. YOUR POWER SOURCE, 13.
Paul’s position (or persuasion) was one of walking or living by faith. We see that in verse 10. But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity.
When Paul wrote these words he was deprived of almost everything--except love, joy, peace and contentment. Because of his faith in God and his fellowship with Jesus, his all-sufficient Savior, he had learned to rejoice in all that God did for him.
What caused his present great rejoicing? He rejoiced in the Philippians concern for him and expressed his gratitude for their support to them. The concern and support provided evidence that his ministry among them was bearing fruit.
Notice that he rejoiced in the Lord. Our union in Christ heightens and purifies all earthly enjoyments. It is through our union with Christ and in proportion to the extent of our abiding in Christ that the true blessings of life are experienced.
A group of geography students studied the "Seven Wonders of the World." At the end of the lecture, the students were asked to list what they considered to be the present-day seven wonders of the world. Although there was some disagreement, the following got the most votes: 1) the Great Pyramids of Egypt, 2) the Taj Mahal, 3) the Grand Canyon, 4) the Panama Canal, 5) the Empire State Building, 6) St. Peter’s Basilica, and 7) the Great Wall of China.
While gathering the votes, the teacher noted that one student, a quiet girl, hadn’t turned in her paper yet. So she asked the girl if she was having trouble with her list.
The quiet girl replied, "Yes, a little. I couldn’t quite make up my mind because there were so many possibilities."
The teacher said, "Well, tell us what you have, and maybe we can help."
The girl hesitated, then read, "I think the Seven Wonders of the World are: 1) to touch, 2) to taste, 3) to see, 4) to hear.. . " She hesitated another moment, and then continued, ". . . 5) to hope, 6) to laugh, 7) and to love."
The room became so silent it was deafening! You see, it is far too easy for us to look at the exploits of man and refer to them as wonders, while we overlook all the amazing things God has done, regarding such blessings as merely ordinary. Life itself is wondrous, amazing, and miraculous! Why don’t we notice this and declare it to be so with each breath and within every moment we live here on the earth? To do so is to truly LIVE! May you be aware each day of those things which are truly wondrous! Count your blessings, and shout for joy!
Paul did. He rejoiced that the Philippians remembered him in his need. They showed their love and appreciation for him and for what he was doing. It greatly encouraged him in the Lord.
II. YOUR PERSPECTIVE, 11.
But what about before their generous gift of financial help and support. Did the distressfulness of his situation cause him worry? Verse 11 says; Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
Paul greatly appreciated their encouraging generosity but assures them that despite his lean circumstances he was not worry. He had learned to be content with what God provided, irrespective of what that did to his circumstances. It is significant that the Apostle had to "learn" that virtue and adopt that attitude. Contentment is not natural to most of mankind.
Henry Kissinger, former US Secretary of State, writes, "To Americans, tragedy is wanting something very badly and not getting it. But many people have had to learn. . . that perhaps the worst form of tragedy is wanting something badly, getting it, and finding it empty."