Summary: When we are driven by the want of more we live contrary to a life of contentment and trust.
All American Idols Series
Title: More Stuff!
Text: Philippians 4:10-13
Thesis: When we are driven by the want of more we live contrary to a life of contentment and trust.
When Paul wrote the Book of Philippians he was in prison in Rome awaiting trial… the end of which would result in his execution. The Roman authorities were favorably disposed toward Paul but the Jewish authorities were not so as something of a compromise Paul was under house arrest. The bible says he was in his own rented house but chained and under guard for two years... but at his own expense. (Acts 28:16 and 30)
Knowing he was in prison, his Christian friends back in Philippi sent one of their church members, Epaphroditus, to deliver a gift of money to Paul to help with his support while in prison. Apparently Epaphroditus had also intended to stay and help Paul but he became very ill and nearly died so Paul sent him back to Philippi. In one sense the Book of Philippians is a big thank you note to the church in Philippi for their generosity.
In our text today, Paul is wrapping up a letter to the Christians in the city of Philippi… “I am writing to all God’s holy people in Philippi who belong to Jesus Christ, including the elders and deacons.” Philippians 1:1
The Philippians, despite their own poverty, were very generous people and had regularly supported Paul in his work.
If we read beyond our stated text we see in:
4:15 – The Philippians were the only ones who supported him while in Philippi and in his missionary journey to Macedonia
4:16- When he was in Thessalonica they had sent him monetary support again and again, i.e., more than once
4:17 – Paul wished the Philippians would receive a reward for their kindness
4:18 – Paul tells the Philippians that he is generously supplied by their gifts
4:19 – Paul assures the Philippians that the same God who supplies all his needs will supply theirs as well
So it is the context of Paul having once again experienced the kindness and generosity of his friends form Philippi that he talks about having learned to be content whether he was struggling to make ends meet or in walking in high clover.
Introduction –Culturally we Practice Outsized Consumption and Accumulation
When I speak of “More Stuff” I am really taking a look at two closely related things that affect us all.
1. Consumerism in the sense that consuming is a preoccupation or inclination toward buying and consuming more goods (and services).
2. Accumulation in the sense that that accumulating is a preoccupation or inclination toward attaining more material things.
I read about a man in Dallas, Texas who had a Starbuck’s Loyalty Card that entitled him to one free drink. He proceeded to order a so-called Sexagintuple Vanilla Bean Mocha Frappuccino which included 60 shots of espresso, required a 128 ounce glass to hold it and cost $54.75. That is outsized and excessive consumerism.
It’s fun to pick on the excesses of others isn’t it… especially the rich?
Earlier this year reality – TV star Kevin O’Leary, AKA Mr. Wonderful of The Shark Tank, responded to the Oxfam Report on Global Inequality that cited the fact that the combined wealth of the 85 richest people of the world is equal to the combined wealth of the poorest 3.5 billion people of the world by saying, “It’s fantastic.” He went on to say, “This is a great thing because it inspires everybody, gets them motivation to look up to the 1% and say, ‘I want to become one of those people. I’m going to fight hard to get to the top.’ This is fantastic news, and of course I applaud it. What can be wrong with this?”
O’Leary speaking of his belief that poor people need look up to the rich as models and get to work on becoming rich and successful themselves said, “This isn’t a Robin Hood society.” The rich have no responsibility toward the poor… It would seem that in the pursuit of more we become heartless and when we become heartless we cannot or will not show compassion.”
Such an attitude toward hard work and the accumulation of wealth runs totally contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture: Tell the rich of this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous toward those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing so they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so they may experience true life. I Timothy 6:19