6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: Paul said in Philippians 4:12 that he learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. We need to learn that secret too.


Philippians 4:12

INTRODUCTION: Fisherman story from Nelson’s ill. Pg. 146. I’m going to be talking today about contentment. In Philippians 4:12 Paul said that he had learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. We need to learn that secret as well.

1) The secret to discontentment. As I was getting into studying about what makes us discontent I realized it really boils down to one thing: selfishness. Our old nature is self. We fight with being self-directed people. We are pleasure seekers who get caught-up in instant gratification. Instead of being content with what we have we want to have the latest and greatest. We feel we need to have something new to satisfy us. Although the root of discontent is selfishness, I see two ways in which they are played out: covetousness and greed. Even though these two are closely related, there is a difference. When I covet, I specifically want what you have. When I’m greedy I just want what’s there. It doesn’t have to belong to anyone.

· Covetousness. Covetousness goes beyond seeing someone with something nice and wanting one for yourself. In that, I don’t care if you have yours I just would like one too. Although that could still set the stage for discontent, covetousness goes deeper. When I covet, emotions start becoming engaged. I become angry with you because you have something I want. I may devise a plan to get it from you. I not only get angry and resentful toward you, I also get angry and resentful toward God because from my perspective, he is depriving me of what I think I should have. Covetousness is a big factor in being discontent. When Robinson Crusoe was on a deserted island after his ship had wrecked, he found a bible among the chests he had salvaged. His heart was changed upon reading it and he uttered these words. “I learned to look more upon the bright side of my condition, and less upon the dark side, and to consider what I enjoyed, rather than what I wanted; and this gave me sometimes such secret comforts, that I cannot express them; and which I take notice here, to put those discontented people in mind of it, who cannot enjoy comfortably what God has given them, because they see and covet something that He has not given them.” When I covet, I am robbed of enjoying that which I already have. I am not satisfied with what God has given me; I want what he has given you. Quote: “Contentment is not having everything you want, but wanting everything you have.” When I covet I am discontent.

· Greed. 1st Tim. 6:6-10. If I’m a greedy person and my agenda is to get rich I’m going to fall into temptations like lust, envy and jealousy. I’m going to fall into the traps of corruption and compromise. I’m going to become trapped by my own envious desires as I forsake my morals and convictions in order to achieve my goal of financial gain. My greed, my foolish and harmful desires will plunge me into ruin and destruction. For when I love money and not God (and we cannot love both, we cannot serve two masters) I set myself up for engaging in various evil activities. The love of money is at the root of embezzlement, prostitution, counterfeiting, gambling, pornography, drug trafficking, human trafficking, the list goes on and on. And people who decide that the pursuit of money is more important than the pursuit of God pierce themselves with many griefs. Their grief comes in never being satisfied. Their grief comes in doing dishonest things for money and having to live with that. Their grief comes in getting caught and having to pay the price for being discontent. Ecc. 5:10, “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.” John D. Rockefeller, often regarded as the richest person in history, was asked, ‘How much money is enough? He answered, “Just a little bit more.” Charles Spurgeon said, “You say, ‘If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.” Greed breeds discontent.

2) The secret to contentment.

· Understanding. 1st Tim. 6:6-8. Set-up (vs. 1-5). I need to understand that if my goal, even in being godly, is financial gain I will not be content. Godliness as a means of financial gain is really no gain at all. Being content in being godly, however, is great gain. Re: vs. 7: I need to understand that ‘he who dies with the most toys; still dies’. Paul said in vs. 8 that we should find contentment in having just the basic necessities-food and clothing. He didn’t talk about transportation, not even a roof over his head, just food and clothing. We condition ourselves to believe that certain things we’ve gotten used to having are necessary, things we can’t do without. We are discontent when we blur the line between needs and wants; what’s a necessity and what isn’t. We need to understand the difference between needs and wants. Having a cell-phone is not a necessity. Cable TV is not a necessity. Having a computer is not a necessity. These aren’t wrong things to have, but the question we have to ask ourselves is, could I still be content if I didn’t have these things? Quote, “The good life exists only when we stop wanting a better one. The itch for things is a virus draining the soul of contentment.” We need to understand the need for contentment. We need to see what being discontent does to us. It drains our soul of joy. Jesus prayed, “Give us today our daily bread.” We’ve quoted this probably a hundred times or more but do we really mean it? Do we understand why Jesus would’ve said this? Prov. 30:7-9. If God were to give us all our wants and desires we would be in danger of disowning him. “I have all these things, what do I need God for?” Daily bread also means that we’re asking that God not withhold any of our basic needs from us. It doesn’t mean that Agur, the author here, would definitely disown God or that he would definitely steal, but there is an acknowledgment that if found in either one of these extremes it would be dangerous. He understood the purpose of receiving his daily bread. He wasn’t going to be discouraged when God didn’t give him the riches he saw others with. Instead, since he understood the dangers he would be thankful. When we look at the riches of others and it causes us to be discontent we are misunderstanding the purpose to having our daily bread. We fail to see the benefits of having our needs met. What happens when we get more money and possessions? We tend to worry about them. We are stressed about the upkeep. We are worried about securing our stuff. Our identity is in how much we have or how much we make. In this, we fail to understand the meaning of life. We fail to understand that when we increase our things we tend to increase our stress. The secret to contentment is revealed in understanding my need for it.

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Martha Mwithiga

commented on Dec 2, 2017

Very inspiring

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