Summary: Learning to be content
The Secret of Satisfaction - Philippians 4:10-13 - 8/21/16
Intro: Turn with me this morning to the book of Philippians, chapter 4. Last week, we looked at a verse that is often taken out of context - 2 Corinthians 9:15 - Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! And we saw that while Jesus is God’s indescribable gift to us - He is not the gift that verse is talking about - neither is it talking about our salvation - but rather in the context that verse is talking God’s grace to us of giving - God blesses us with the ability to give.
Today I want us to consider another verse that is often taken out of context: Philippians 4:13 - you can probably quote it for me: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me - or - I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Now when we think about that verse, we often use it as a way of glorifying God. The last two weeks the media has featured story after story about Olympic athletes. I hope you were able to watch and be inspired by many of the events that took place this past week. Wednesday night, USA had a sweep - we won gold, silver, and bronze medals in the Women’s 100 meter hurdle final: Brianna Rollins, Nia Ali and Kristi Castlin finished first, second, and third. After the race, I heard the interview where they were very outspoken about the help that God gave - praising Him - saying they had prayed together before the race, and that all the glory went to God.
I remember in 2000 when Laura Wilkinson won her gold medal in diving. Afterwards they were interviewing her and they asked “How did you do it?” And she boldly replied for all the world to hear - “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” And we often use that verse as a way of having hope: that no matter what we are facing, God will bring us through. But today I want us to look at the context, and be a little more specific about the application - we will see what God really intended for us to come away with by that verse. Let’s start reading in verse 10.
Read Philippians 4:10-13 - Pray
As we have read this passage, Paul is dealing with one specific topic: contentment. Now I’m not trying to tell you that you can’t use verse 13 to inspire you and give you hope. But let’s look at the truth: I can’t do anything. If I decide I’m going to jump high and reach the moon - it’s not going to happen. What if I lose an arm and want to grow a new arm - can I grow a new arm? NO! Could I? Yes, God CAN do anything - but that doesn’t mean that He will! Far too often we look at that verse as a promise that we can do anything that WE want to do - and we CAN’T! - and so it is easy then to say “See, I knew I couldn’t count of God!” But the truth is, that if we take that verse in it’s context - and we say that no matter what the circumstance, I can choose to stay content - THEN it makes perfect sense, and THEN it is ALWAYS true. Because God promises He will never give us more than we can bear - 1 Corinthians 10:13!
Now what is really interesting here is that Paul tells us in verse 10 - 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. Contentment is something that we learn. It is not that we become a Christian and suddenly we are content. Rather it is something we learn, just like all the other qualities of the Christian life. God supplies help, but we grow in our spiritual maturity, we learn to be content. And here’s the kicker - the hard part to accept - LIFE is a school of contentment. We learn to be content by facing all kinds of adversity. God allows us to get in all kinds of circumstances, and as we turn to Him and seek His help, we grow in contentment.
So how to we learn contentment?
1. Learn to Avoid Comparisons - one of the basic reasons we struggle with contentment is that we are comparing ourselves and our situations to others. We look at others and see their circumstances, and we say “if only MY circumstances were different, THEN I would be content.” But the truth is that whenever we compare ourselves to others we are not wise. 2 Corinthians 10:12 tells us, We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. Or as the NLT states it, Oh, don’t worry; I wouldn’t dare say that I am as wonderful as these other men who tell you how important they are! But they are only comparing themselves with each other, and measuring themselves by themselves. What foolishness!