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Summary: Paul’s secret to contentment

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Philippians 4:10-23

Contentment

10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were 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 all this through him who gives me strength.

14 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. 17 Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

20 To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

21 Greet all God’s people in Christ Jesus. The brothers and sisters who are with me send greetings. 22 All the Lord’s people here send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.

23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

Begin with a clip from “Leap of Faith”

In Paul’s day, there were “Philosophers” and “Teachers” and snake oil salesmen walking around selling their ideas and wares just as there are today. The presence of TV preachers today and their grasping at money is one of the reasons that people like myself find it hard to ask for support for projects etc.

You can see Paul’s struggle in this statement at the letter – he wants to thank them for the gifts that they have sent without sounding like he is asking for more! It is a bit like thanking your grandmother for a great meal, without encouraging her to put more on your plate. “Oh that was amazing, but I couldn’t eat another bite!”

Paul’s Situation – In a Turkish Prison in Ephesus – you were not fed etc. in prison in those days – you family and friends had to support you, or you might get some scraps every other day.

Paul was in this situation for a while, until Epaphroditus came with the gift from the Philippians.

Contentment

Contentment is a rare quality these days – we have TV shows, magazines, billboards etc that tell us not to be content with last years model of anything – car, computer, clothes, spouse…

Lack of contentment is a dangerous thing to a Christian – Parable of the seed – the cares of the world and the lure of wealth came and choked the plants

Paul’s secret to contentment in every circumstance:

Not out of individual fortitude like the stoics taught, but because God gives him strength. - 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Secret #1 Purpose

Paul has a purpose much larger than mere accumulation of things, or trophies or accolades. His focus is on furthering the Kingdom of God.

Matthew 6:25-34

25"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ’What shall we eat?’ or ’What shall we drink?’ or ’What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

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