Summary: In this last section of Philippians, Paul shared the secret of contentment that he discovered.
A. The story is told of a wealthy Englishman who came downstairs one morning and heard his cook saying to herself, “Oh, if I only had a five-pound note, I would be so content with that!”
1. The wealthy Englishman, quickly considered the matter, and wanting to see the woman satisfied, came in and gave her a five-pound note (which was worth about $25 at that time).
2. The cook thanked him profusely.
3. The wealthy man left the room, but waited outside the door to hear if the cook might express her gratitude to God.
4. As soon as the wealthy man left the room, the cook said to herself, “Why didn’t I say ten rather than five?!”
B. How often do we find ourselves acting just like that cook?
1. How often do we find ourselves always wanting more, and then when we get the more we wanted, we move right on to wanting even more?
2. Do you know what true contentment is? Would you like to develop true contentment?
3. Someone said, “Contentment has been praised more and practiced less than any other condition in life.”
4. Another person observed that “All the world lives in two tents – content and discontent.”
5. So, which tent do you live in? Content or discontent?
6. Surely, one of the greatest causes of a believer’s lack of joy in their life is a lack of contentment.
C. Webster defines the word “content” as: “Having the desires limited to that which one has.”
1. Here is a good quote: “Bless God for what you have, and trust God for what you want. If we cannot bring our condition to our mind, then we must bring our mind to our condition. If a man is not content in the state he is in, then he will not be content in the state he would be in.” (Erskine Mason)
2. Those are wise words – we must learn to be content wherever we are; whatever state we are in.
3. The story is told of an elder in the early church who was a remarkable example of contentment.
a. When asked for the secret to his contentment, he said, “It consists of nothing more than making a right use of my eyes. In whatever state I am, I first of all look up to heaven and remember that my principle business here is to get there. Then I look down upon the earth, and call to mind how small a place I shall occupy in it when I die and am buried. I then look around in the world and observe what multitudes there are who are in many respects more unhappy than myself. Thus I learn where true happiness is placed, where all our cares must end, and what little reason I have to complain.”
b. That spiritual man was so right – contentment is a matter of how we look at things.
D. Would you be interested if someone told you they had discovered the secret of contentment and that they were willing to share the secret with you?
1. As we come to the end of our study of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, we notice his declaration that he had discovered the secret to being content, and that he was willing to share that secret with the Philippians and with us.
2. What is the secret to contentment that Paul had discovered?
3. Paul had discovered that contentment comes from a trust in our spiritual realities rather than a focus on our physical circumstances.
4. My aim today is to encourage us to keep our focus off the wrong things and to keep our trust in the right things.
5. Let’s notice that Paul mentions two spiritual realities in which we must place our trust, and when we place our trust in those spiritual realities the result is contentment.
I. First of all, Contentment Comes from Putting Our Trust in the Unfailing Power of God
A. Paul wrote: 10 I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 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. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Phil. 4:10-13)
1. Paul deliberately chose the words “secret” and “content” which were words that were commonly used by stoics and practitioners of mystery religions.