Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: We are to lay aside anything in our life that hinders our course of running this race for our Lord, of living a life pleasing to Him. Knowing that He is all we need Who can fill every void in our life.

Opening illustration: A Jewish man in Hungary went to his rabbi and complained, “Life is unbearable. There are nine of us living in one room. What can I do?” The rabbi answered, “Take your goat into the room with you.” The man was skeptical, but the rabbi insisted, “Do as I say and come back in a week.”

A week later the man returned looking more distressed than before. “We can’t stand it,” he told the rabbi. “The goat is filthy.” The rabbi said, “Go home and let the goat out, and come back in a week.” A week later the man returned, radiant, exclaiming, “Life is beautiful. We enjoy every minute of it now that there’s no goat - only the nine of us.” (Reader's Digest [12/81]) Contentment is more a matter of our perspective than of our circumstances, isn’t it!

But even among God’s people, true contentment is not common. The Puritan Jeremiah Burroughs captured this fact by titling his book, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment. The philosopher, Immanuel Kant, saw this when he observed, “Give a man everything he wants, and at that moment, everything will not be everything” (cited by Richard Swenson, Margin [NavPress]).

Though rare, contentment is not just nice for believers. The participle implies a command: “Be[ing] content with what you have.” To grumble about our circumstances is to challenge the love and goodness of our heavenly Father. To be discontented implies that He has not provided us with what we need. Discontent was the sin of Israel in the wilderness. God had just miraculously delivered them from slavery in Egypt and He was miraculously meeting their needs, yet they grumbled about their hardships and threatened to return to Egypt.

Introduction: Just as the Hebrews were exhorted, we too are to grow in the knowledge of God and strive toward perfection, or Christian maturity. We are to lay aside anything in our life that hinders our course of running this race for our Lord, of living a life pleasing to Him. We are to serve God acceptably and diligently which is our reasonable service, while at the same time longing for His return and being prepared for that glorious meeting face-to-face with our Savior when our faith becomes sight, and our sure hope becomes a satisfied anticipation. Having therefore this great assurance, let us go forth praising God continuously, “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith,” and bring many more to the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Knowing that He is all we need and the One Who can fill every void in our life.

Why is it necessary to have Jesus?

1. To be CONTENT not COVETOUS (vs. 5-6)

The word “content” is the translation of arkeo “to be possessed of unfailing strength, to be strong, to suffice, to be enough,” finally, “to be satisfied, contented.” The underlying thought is that one should be satisfied with that which meets our need, and not desire a superfluity. The cognate noun of this verb is compounded with the personal pronoun “self” in Philippians 4:11 to mean “self-sufficient.” This latter word was used by the Stoics to express the favorite doctrine of the sect, that man should be sufficient to himself for all things, able by the power of his will to resist the shock of circumstance. Paul was self-sufficient because he was Christ-dependent. The word “content,” therefore, in our Hebrew passage means more than “satisfied.” It refers to the ability of the Christian dependent upon the Holy Spirit, to be independent of outward circumstances.

The world constantly seeks to make us feel discontented. All advertising, whether on TV, billboards, or in catalogs, is designed to make you think, “I need this product to be happy!” A PBS television program stated that the average American sees over a million commercials by age 20 (Randy Alcorn, The Treasure Principle [Multnomah Publishers]). I don’t know how they came up with that number, but it averages out to 137 per day, if you start at birth! Even a fraction of that many commercials has got to affect us! So we have to fight the influence of the world, or its swift cur-rent will sweep us downstream.

Contentment does not grow without cultivation and maintenance. You may be content in the Lord today, but tomorrow you could be tempted toward greed or envy. Contentment and greed are attitudes that start in your mind. To cultivate contentment, you’ve got to guard your thought life and constantly work at developing a biblical view of life, of material possessions, and of eternity. You have to avoid comparing yourself with others, recognizing that God is sovereign and that He has different purposes for different people. Perhaps He knows that if He entrusted more money to you, you would stop trusting Him and be spiritually ruined.

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