Summary: Although facing great adversity, Paul had learned to be content. The Lord had been faithful to provide the strength he needed to endure whatever trials or difficulties he faced. We too can learn contentment and receive strength for our trials.
Peace through Contentment
Philippians 4: 10-13
Our text today offers a compelling and intimate look within the heart of Paul. This letter to the Philippian church was penned from a Roman prison. Paul was bound, and unable to minister freely as he once did. The possibility of execution loomed each day. Under such extreme and desperate circumstances, it would have been easy to become disillusioned in the faith and abandon all hope. Rather than a man of doubt and hopelessness, we discover one who is optimistic about his future and quite content with life as it was. While unable to change his outward circumstances, Paul found great peace and joy from within. He determined to focus on the Lord and faith in Him instead of allowing current circumstances to dominate his existence.
While our situation is much different than Paul’s, no doubt we have all faced seasons of doubt and desperation. There have been times when it seemed as if our world was crumbling around us. In those moments, it is easy to question our faith and find ourselves feeling hopeless and alone. I do not make light of such encounters, but I am also aware that we do not have to allow our despair defeat us. Regardless of what we encounter in life, there is hope in Christ. It is possible to possess inner peace that overcomes the doubt and fears of life. One can learn genuine contentment, even in the face of adversity.
As we consider the experiences Paul encountered, I hope they will encourage us in the faith and compel us to press on in our Christian journey. I want to preach on the thought: Peace through Contentment.
I. The Gratitude Expressed (10) – But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Although bound in prison, Paul found reason to rejoice. His rejoicing was generated by:
A. Philippi’s Compassion (10a) – But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again. It is evident that Paul loved the church in Philippi. He had proven his love while he was among them, and he continued to express his love for them in this letter. This love and concern was not without consequence. The church also loved Paul. They were burdened for their former pastor and sought any means possible to assist him in his struggles.
The church in Philippi faced financial struggles themselves, with many of them living in extreme poverty, 2 Cor.8:1-2. They were pleased however to share what they had with Paul. They willingly sacrificed what little they had to ensure Paul’s needs were met. Epaphroditus had come to Paul, bearing gifts from the Philippian church, V.18.
This presents a great challenge for us today. We have faced tough economic times for several years. While compared to the rest of the world, each of us are rich, but I understand the struggles many have faced. It is easy to lose our compassion for others and convince ourselves we just don’t have anything to give. Paul and the Philippian church had learned that contentment was not found in great wealth, but in obedience to Christ. We too need to be a people of compassion, willing to give sacrificially of our abundance in an effort to meet the needs of others. Acts 20:35 – I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
B. Philippi’s Character (10b) – wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Paul knew the heart of the church in Philippi. He was aware of their character. Their lack of providing for him as of late had not been the result of greed or neglect. They lacked opportunity. The desire to assist Paul had remained, but they hadn’t been able to provide as they desired. This lack of funding may have been the result of various obstacles, but a lack of concern for Paul and the Gospel were not in mind here. Paul was certain their desire and commitment remained.
This reminded me of the pressing need for the church to provide funding for missions and missionaries. We exist to exalt the Lord and share the Gospel. While we can’t physically go to the uttermost parts of the world, evangelizing all who have yet to hear, we can provide financial support for those God has called to those specific areas. If we want to enjoy peace and contentment in our Christian lives, we too must be willing to give sacrificially to spread the Gospel. John 4:35-36 – Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.  And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.