Summary: Four Biblical truths that will enable you to enjoy the contentment the Apostle Paul knew.
Turn your Bibles to Philippians 4:12-13
Title: Learning Contentment
Theme: Secrets to Doing in Christ
Series: Full Measure of Thanksgiving
Listen as I read Philippians 4:12-13, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” Pray!
Introduction: The Book of Ecclesiastes was written by a king whose name is associated with the word “peace.” Solomon was famous for his wisdom. He ruled in a city which attracted the wealth of surrounding nations and during his oversight the people of God saw the construction of the temple. (Whose Who in the Bible) This man of wisdom understood life on this earth and wrote about his observation as he considered the vanity and vexation of this world. He writes in Ecclesiastes 4:4, “And I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man’s envy of his neighbor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”
Most people have heard the phrase, “Keeping up with the Jones.” Pastor Rick Warren had seen a sign that said, “Don’t worry about the Jones. They just filed chapter 13.”
Please understand that the whole of Scripture is not against the desire to acquire good things, The problem is what the Bible calls “coveting” which is the uncontrolled desire to acquire what your neighbor has. Today this sin is often referred to as “materialism.”
Proposition: I would propose to you that advertisers have spent billions knowing mankind’s bondage to covetousness.
Interrogative Sentence: Just what are four Biblical truths that will enable you to enjoy the contentment the Apostle Paul knew?
Transitional Sentence: The first step to learning contentment is grasping the ability to do everything in Christ’s name. This always begins by agreeing with God on the major problems that arise through coveting. 2 Timothy 3:2 says, “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy…” Holy Spirit illuminated Christians make a point to grasp the problems which arise from a coveting heart.
Covetousness has always been a very serious menace to mankind. It was one of the first sins that broke out after Israel had entered the Promise Land. (Achan, Joshua 7) It is found in the early Christian Church as well. (Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 5) Thus there are many warnings against this life controlling sin. (The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia) This sin is so powerful and abundant in the heart of mankind, it is addressed in the Ten Commandments. Exodus 20:17, "You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."
“Covet” (hamad) means to take pleasure in, to desire passionately. This sin causes people to desire that which is destructive. (The Complete Word Study of the Old Testament) “Covetous” (philarguros) meaning people will want more and more, bigger and bigger, better and better and they will seldom be satisfied with what they have. (Practical Word Studies in the New Testament)
Jesus said this sin comes from the spiritual heart. (Mark7:22-23) The Bible says it engrosses the heart. (Ezekiel 33:31; 2 Peter 2:14) This sin is idolatry (Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:5) and it is not to be seen in the lives of Christians or preachers of the Word of God. (Ephesians 5:3; Hebrews 13:5; 1 Timothy 3:3) Covetousness leads to injustice and oppression; (Proverbs 28:20) foolishness and hurtful lust; (1 Timothy 6:9) departure from the faith; (1 Timothy 6:10) intrigues people to lie; (2 Kings 5:22-25) commit murder; (Ezekiel 22:12) theft and domestic affliction. (Proverbs 15:7) Christians are to avoid those who are guilty of coveting and even pray against it, not wanting it within their own hearts. (1 Corinthians 5:11; Psalm 119:36) (New Topical Textbook)
Walter B. Knight powerfully presents the destructiveness of the sin of covetousness, he writes,
“Covetousness is a disease of the soul. It is soul-shriveling, character-tarnishing and personality-dwarfing. This sin tightens its grasp upon it victims as they grow older. It allows men to breath, but they never truly live. It’s victims may receive, but never give with a right motive. It’s victims become creation’s blot, creation’s blank.” (Knight’s Treasury)
The story has been told of an old dying pickpocket; “…whom a preacher of the Word of God went to see. This man of God shared of the loving saving grace of Jesus Christ, yet little response came from this man bound by covetousness. The preacher got on his knees, beside the bed of the dying pickpocket. As he prayed, the man died. When the preacher rose up from his knees to stand, he noticed that the pickpocket’s fingers were clutched to his pocket watch. The sight of the glittering chain and the urge to steal from the preoccupied preacher was just too much for the dying pickpocket to resist. Covetousness, is a disease of the spiritual heart, it tightens it’s grip upon it’s victims right at death’s door.” (“The Dying Pickpocket,” Knight’s Treasury)