Summary: It's a tragedy that the lack of contentment today has become the norm for even the children of God, yet contentment is absolutely essential to walk worthily of our Lord.
Philippians 4: 4-7
by Dwight Kennedy
1. Rejoice Greatly in Your Heavenly Maker. (vs. 4)
(An Act of Worship)
2. Respond in Gentleness & Hardiness to Men. (vs. 5)
(Action in Our Work)
3. Request with Gratitude and Humility in Every Manner. (vs. 6)
(The Antidote to Worry)
4. Rest in the Guardian of Your Heart and Mind. (vs. 7)
(The Abiding in God’s Wonderment)
I believe it was Will Rogers that once said that people who lived in the country would move to the city to work hard and save their money in order to move back to the country.
It seems that our country today is never satisfied. We desire and crave for more and more, yet we are never fulfilled. “We are never satisfied, never content, and envious of those who have what we have not attained…(Rick Ezell, Contentment - The Learned Virtue, Lifeway Article). "
The tragedy, though, is this lack of contentment has become the norm for even the children of God.
So tonight, we’re going to look in God’s Word to see how we, as God’s people, can “Pursue Contentment” in our individual lives. But understand, this is not an option for the Christian; it is absolutely essential in order to walk worthily for our Lord.
Here’s you a question: In the midst of this world, with all its temptations and attractions, how can the Follower of Christ, not only overcome the lure of the world, but be victorious, through contentment, to be the men, the women, and the young people that God desires us to be?
I want to share with you this evening, four actions that we, as God’s children, should learn to cultivate in our daily walk in order to develop contentment so that we can experience the abundant life in Christ as we bring glory to God.
#1: Rejoice Greatly in Your Heavenly Maker.
Paul tells us to rejoice always in the Lord. This is an “Act of Worship.”
Prisons in Paul’s day were obviously a lot different than what we have today. Most jails in the first century had no windows, no ventilation, and no lighting. Prisoners were beaten and then locked in chains. If fed, they received half the amount given to a slave. Hygiene was non-existent; the stench of excrement, urine, and body odors was horrible. Lice were abundant. Many prisoners suffocated due to a lack of air. A common cold was often times lethal because the immune systems in their bodies were so weak. Added to the physical turmoil was the psychological suffering (Simon Apablaza, Condition of Prisons in the First Century, Internet).
It was in this type environment that we find the Apostle Paul in a Roman prison writing about contentment. And he begins by encouraging the reader to, “Rejoice.”
You can’t rejoice in something that you do not have. You can’t rejoice in the Lord unless the Lord rejoices in you. In Luke 15:10, Jesus says that there is “joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repents.” Also, it is alluded to that the Lord one day will rejoice with the child of God, “Well done, good and faithful servant…enter into the joy of your lord (Matthew 25:21).” A joyous life can only be generated from a changed life.
What are you going to rejoice in if you’re lost spiritually? That you’re going to an eternal hell? True joy is knowing that the wrath of God has been settled and the grace of God has been secured.
Paul reminds the church here at Philippi at least 20 times in his letter about “joy” or “rejoicing.” The joy came from knowing that “He who began a good work in [them] [would] perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6).”
Jesus even told the seventy disciples to not rejoice that evil spirits were subject to them, but rather “rejoice because your names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20).”
You want contentment? Rejoice because you’re saved!
#2: Respond in Gentleness and Hardiness to Men.
Paul writes that our gentleness should be shown. He also reminds us that “the Lord is at hand.” This is “Action in Our Walk”
As children of God, there ought to be a gentle spirit about us toward everyone. Our lives should be of a genuine Christ-likeness shown both in our words and through our actions. And I will say, even toward our families. Yet it is sad that too many families are forced to experience a hypocrisy from the life of a family member that their local church never sees. He may talk about heaven at church, but he’s hell to live with at home!
When we’re saved, the Holy Spirit of God comes and resides in us. As we are filled with the Spirit, our lives take on the fruit of the Spirit described in Galatians 5:22, which includes gentleness. So, having developed the “mind of Christ” in us (Philippians 2:5), our response to life should be with gentleness that is demonstrated with a hardiness. Notice that Paul says in this verse, “The Lord is at hand.” This implies a proactive stance in our gentleness to others; a “hardiness.” Being merely reactive in our calling does not imitate Christ. The Lord is at hand! There’s an urgency! We must look for ways to show Christ to people we meet. The world needs to encounter the Gospel being “fleshed-out” so there is a clarity of Whose we are.