Summary: The secret of contentment is found in a personal relationship with the living Christ who loves us and who is able to gives adequate strength to cope with life in spite of our circumstances.
DISCOVERY OF THE SECRET OF CONTENTMENT Philippians 4:7-13
Proposition: The secret of contentment is found in a personal relationship with the living Christ who loves us and who is able to gives adequate strength to cope with life in spite of our circumstances.
Objective: My purpose is to challenge God’s people to be content and satisfied with the strength that the Lord can and will provide as we put our complete trust in Him.
Illus: A man borrowed a book from an acquaintance. As he read through it, he was intrigued to find parts of the book underlined with the letters YBH written in the margin. When he returned the book to the owner, he asked what the YBH meant. The owner replied that the underlined paragraphs were sections of the book that he basically agreed with. They gave him hints on how to improve himself and pointed out truths that he wished to incorporate into his life. However, the letters YBH stood for “Yes, but how?”
Those three letters could be written on the margins of ours souls: “I ought to know how to take better care of myself, but how?” “I know I ought to spend more time in Scripture reading and prayer, but how?” “I know I ought to be more sensitive to others, more loving of my spouse, more understanding of the weaknesses of others, but how?” As Christian people we know the kind of life we ought to live, and most of us have the best of intentions to do so, but how?
We know that we need to do better, but we also know how far short we fall. So the question that confronts us this morning is: “Yes, but how?” “Paul, that is easy for you to say, but you don’t the things I face today from our world.” A paraphrase of Paul speaking to the Corinthian church: “It seems to me that God has put us who bear his Message on stage in a theater in which no one wants to buy a ticket. We’re something everyone stands around and stares at, like an accident in the street. We’re the Messiah’s misfits. You might be sure of yourselves, but we live in the midst of frailties and uncertainties. You might be well-thought-of by others, but we’re mostly kicked around. Much of the time we don’t have enough to eat, we wear patched and threadbare clothes, we get doors slammed in our faces, and we pick up odd jobs anywhere we can to eke out a living. When they call us names, we say, “God bless you.” When they spread rumors about us, we put in a good word for them. We’re treated like garbage, potato peelings from the culture’s kitchen. And it’s not getting any better.” Now, Paul is in prison and speaks again: “Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances.”
Illus: The secret of contentment is knowing how to enjoy what you have, and to be able to lose all desire for things beyond your reach.
I. PROPER SELECTION (vvs. 8-9) “whatever things…meditate on these things”—There is a lot of negative thinking today and we need to be aware of its dangers. The Bible teaches that we choose what we think. The secret lies in a positive Christian outlook.
1. Right thinking (v. 8) “meditate on these things”- Peace involves the heart & the mind (Isa, 26:3, Rom. 8:6). Wrong thoughts will lead to unrest & discouragement, but spiritual thinking will lead to peace.
1). The choices (v. 8a)—Each of us determines what we will think about. There are thoughts that promote inner character—We must practice the right kind of thinking which is possible only because Christ lives His life in us: things that are true, things that are honest (noble and worthy of respect), think about things that are just (right and conforms to God’s standards). There are thoughts that promote inner cleanness—Exclude that which besmirches and think on things that are pure (on what is whole- some and not mixed with moral impurity. Only the blood of Christ can cleanse the mind. Extol that which beautifies and think on things that are lovely (that which promotes peace rather than conflict and worthy of love, things that gracious and kindly). Exalt that which builds and think on things that are of good report (that which is well-spoken of and relates to what is positive and constructive rather than negative and destructive). We have to make deliberate choices to think profitable thoughts. The secret of a guided thought life is an active assertion of the will, in cooperation with the Holy Spirit, to “think on these things.”
2). The challenge (v. 8b) “Meditate on these things”--God challenges us to face up to the responsibility of making the right choices (Proverbs 23:7). Remember that Christ was always true in what He did and said. At His trial nobody could think of anything He had said or done that could be used against Him. His enemies had to hire false witnesses, twist His words and resort to mob psychology and highly-charged political slogans to get Him condemned. Paul had mentioned "Jesus Christ" at the end of verse seven which means we must direct our thoughts to Jesus. We must think of Christ. All unworthy thoughts perish in His presence. Right thinking is the result of daily meditation on Christ (the Living Word) & the Word of God (the written Word).