Summary: Philippians - Manual of Joy Joy and Secret of Contentment

Philippians - Manual of Joy

The Secret of Contentment


David Taylor

Contentment does not come naturally to us but it is possible to live with contentment. Paul said he had learned the secret of contentment. A lack of contentment shows up in the high rate of consumer debt. We aren’t content to live within our means, so we go into debt to live just a bit better than we can afford, but then we suffer anxiety from the pressure of paying all our bills. Our discontent shows itself in the high divorce rate. We can’t find happiness in our marriages, so we trade our mates in for a different model, only to find that the same problems reoccur. Our lack of contentment leads us to the elusive trap of finding it. It becomes our quest. It is what motivates and moves us. The problem is that in reality it rarely meets our expectations. So we become disappointed, frustrated, maybe even depressed and move to something else. We get a new gadget, find another toy, take another trip, or try a new website to entertain us. Or we become disillusioned because it does not satisfy us so we seek to medicate ourselves.

Contentment is the God given ability to be satisfied with him and his provision for us in any and every situation. It is not a denial of suffering or injustice nor is it resignation to fatalism because God is sovereign. Contentment is an inner condition of the heart, a trust in God that is cultivated over time by our relationship with God. In this passage, Paul writes to tell us how to find contentment while in prison because of corrupt officials and is awaiting possible execution over false charges.

Main idea –Contentment comes when we find our satisfaction in God and his provision in every and any circumstance.

1. Contentment Comes From Finding my Joy in Christ (vs. 10)

Contentment is the God given ability to be satisfied with him and his loving provision for us in any and every situation. Paul has been hammering home this theme of finding our joy in Christ all through this letter. We have seen that finding our joy in God is based upon the work of God on our behalf. We find contentment, peace of mind when we are satisfied in who Christ is for us and know that God is always working on our behalf and for our good even in affliction and suffering. Joy is necessary as followers of Christ because the joy of the Lord is our strength (Neh. 8:10). We see this truth in the parable of the treasure, 'in his joy the man sold all he had to buy the treasure (Mat 3:44).'

2. Contentment Comes from Learning from God’s Process (vs. 11-13)

Contentment does not happen by chance but by submitting ourselves to the learning process God puts us in. Contentment is learned as truth shapes my mind. Paul shows a relationship between knowing and doing in a way that shows that knowing overwhelmingly influences doing. Fourteen times Paul implies that our sinful behavior would be different if we knew the truth more fully. For example, you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers! Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? (1 Cor. 6:8–9). Flee from sexual immorality.... Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit? (1 Cor. 6:18–19). Each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God. (1 Thes. 4:4–5). All godliness or transformation is owing to truth, that is, knowing God as he is truly known. Truth, known with the mind and loved with the heart, is the way God produces all transformation. You will know the truth and the truth will set you free (John 8:32).

Contentment is learned as circumstances shape my faith. Sometimes God supplied abundantly for Paul, and so he had learned how to live in prosperity. But sometimes God withheld support, so Paul had to learn to get along with little means. At those times, he did not grumble or panic, but submitted himself to the sovereign hand of God, trusting that God knew what was best for him and that He always cared for His children (1 Peter 5:6, 7). It didn’t come naturally to him and it is not natural to us. It is a process that we learn from walking with God every day. The key to this process is understanding that everything, major and minor, is under God’s sovereignty. He uses all our circumstances to shape us if we trust Him. If you are walking with God and you find yourself in a desperate situation, you can know that you are not there by chance. God has put you there for strengthening your faith, that you might share His holiness.

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