Summary: an exposition of Philippians 4:10-20
Islington Baptist Church
July 15, 2001
Series: Big problems for Christians and all people
Scripture readings: II Cor. 8-9, I Tim 6:6-10
Contentment: the secret to being content
Before I went on holidays we were in the midst of a series entitled “Big problems for Christians and all people”. The first subject we considered was the tongue, then we talked about forgiveness, followed by the sexual purity.
The last time we were together we talked about anger-with a slight twist. In talking about anger we dealt with the question “Is it ever right for a person to be angry with God?” While it may be that we sometimes think we have a right to be angry with God, the reality is we never do. That we might not be guilty of sinning against God by harboring anger against Him, we must have a Biblical perspective and Biblical expectations of God.
Today we are going to consider the topic of contentment. Contentment is all about being satisfied. The word content means to “be enough” “To suffice” and has to do with being content with what is available.
In the book “The pursuit of Godliness” Jerry Bridges writes that we must learn to be content in respect to 3 areas: our possessions, our position in life and in the church, and in the providence of God.
On of the things that struck me in reading Jerry’s chapter on contentment was how he had applied it in his own life. Listen to what he wrote….. “Since early childhood I have suffered a vision impairment that is often frustrating, and total hearing loss in one ear that is often embarrassing. But those are not my only physical problems. One day I stood before the bedroom mirror and named 7 distinct things that were “wrong” with my body; things I had often fretted about and murmured over. That day I said, “Lord, I accept the fact that you made me the way I am, and that your grace is sufficient for all these limitations.” I cannot say I have not fretted over these problems since then, but I can now say I know how to be content with them: by accepting that God’s grace is sufficient. Although I do not always apply this wonderful fact, it is true and it is always available. The choice to accept it and experience contentment is mine. And the choice is yours in your particular circumstances.
Our text today is Philippians 4:10-20 READ
The verse that we are going to key on today is v.11. In verse 11 Paul says “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.”
What a amazing statement! Oh that we might be able to say this.
-to be content irregardless of the possessions we have or do not have. As you know we live in a materialistic, buy it on credit and pay for it later, culture
-to be content irregardless of our social standing or place within the body of Christ
-to be content irregardless of the things God providentially allows into your life.
When we speak of the providence of God we acknowledge that no circumstance comes to us by chance and that all things are under the control of God. Hence, we have physical ailments such as Jerry Bridges has, when you end up with a grouchy neighbor, etc, etc. All come to us as first having gone past God and past Christ, right through us.
Alan Redpath has written on this subject saying “there is nothing- no circumstance, no trouble, no testing- that can ever touch us until first of all it has gone past God and past Christ, right through to us. If it has come this far, it has also come with a great purpose which we might not presently understand.” So what must we do? We must learn to be content. We must trust God and lean not on our understanding. We must rest in joy of who are Lord is and the truth that His grace is sufficient for us.
When Paul wrote “I have learned to be content no matter the situation” he was more than qualified to write and teach on this subject.
You see, Paul was writing from a Roman jail. Roman guards were at his side and death lay before him.
Paul was also writing as one who had grown up as a youth with a silver spoon in his mouth- yet now he knew poverty. Paul knew what it was like to live under persecution and under peace. Paul knew what it was to have a roof over his head and the stars over his head at night. Paul knew what it was to a full stomach and a empty stomach. Paul knew what it was to be surrounded be loving Christians and to be abandoned by his Christian brothers. Paul knew what it was to healthy and he knew what it was to have a thorn in his flesh that God refused to take away.