Summary: In marked contrast with the widespread discontent of our world, the Apostle Paul spoke on the subject of contentment in his letter to the church at Philippi.
Restoring the Joy
A Study of the Book of Philippians
Sermon # 12
“The Secret of Contentment”
“A Russian woman lived with her husband and two children in a very small hut. Her husband’s parents lost their home and she had to take them in. Unbearable. In desperation, she went to the village wise man, whom she knew had solved many, many problems. "What should I do?" she begged. "Do you have a COW?" asked the wise man. "Yes," she replied. Then bring her into the hut too. And come back and see me in a week," said the wise man. A week later she was back. "This is utterly unbearable" she said. "Do you have any CHICKENS?" asked wise man. "Yes," she replied. "What about them?" ‘Bring them into the hut too, and come back and see me in another week." "Now you’re utterly out of your mind," she said. Nevertheless, still awed by his reputation, she did as he asked. A week later she returned. "This is absolutely impossible," she said. "Our home is a mess." "All right," said the wise man, "take out the chickens." The next week she reported that without the chickens it was definitely better, but still a miserable situation. "All right," said the wise man, "now take out the cow. That will settle your problem." And it did. Without the chickens and cow, the woman, her husband, the children, and his two parents got along quite peacefully. Everything is relative! Sometimes we don’t know how well off we really are!”
Surely one of the greatest causes of a believer not having joy in their lives is a lack of contentment. Contentment is an illusive commodity today! Tragically, Christian and Non-Christian alike fall for the world’s lies about the secret of contentment. Never, it seems have so many wanted so much and found so little contentment once they got it. This is hardly surprising when we consider that we are bombarded on a daily basis with advertisements whose sole purpose is to breed discontent so that we will buy their product. How tragic it is that we live in one of the most prosperous nations on the face of the earth and we still struggle with contentment. We seem to live in a culture that is not content, ever, with little or with much. It appears that the more people have the more discontent they are… Typically the richest people in the world are the most miserably unhappy.
In marked contrast with the widespread discontent of our world, the Apostle Paul spoke on the subject of contentment in his letter to the church at Philippi.
“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. (11) Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: (12) I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Every-where and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. (13) I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (NKJV)
In verse ten, Paul speaks from a heart full of gratitude for the financial support he has received from the church at Philippi. But we are going to skip over verse ten and consider it next week as we examine verses fourteen to nineteen. This morning I want us to listen in as Paul tells us “The Secret of Contentment.”
Some translations translate verse twelve to read, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” (NIV) The idea expressed at the end of verse eleven and in verse twelve, literally means “I have learned the secret.” Paul tells us the he has learned the true secret to life and he wants to share it with them.
First, He tell us that Contentment is a Learned State. Contentment is not something that comes naturally. Paul said that he had to “learn to be content” (v.11)
Contentment then is learned. Paul’s content-ent was not instantaneous, it was the fruit of many years of faithful fellowship, learning from the experience that he could trust the Lord to provide what he needed.
Part of our problem is that we do not understand what contentment is nor where it is found. We have been taught to understand that contentment comes from People we know. “If I could Just hang out with the Right People?” But people never live up to our expectations.
We have been taught to understand that contentment comes from Positions we hold. “If I could just get the right job, that allows me to make the a good income, drive a nice car, live in a nice house, I would be content.” But what happens if we don’t get that job or we get it and lose it?