Summary: In this passage, we discover how to be truly content, no matter what.
The Secret to Contentment
Illus. Don’t you just love hearing/telling secrets?
•Recently, I spoke at a local Christian school. Afterward, I sat down with a 5 y.o. red-headed girl who proceeded to tell me all about her life. Suddenly, out of the blue, she said, "My Mommy has brown hair hiding underneath her yellow hair, but it’s a secret.”
Some secrets are really meant to remain secret. Others, however, are meant to be told.
Today’s secret is one of them. Turn with me to Phil. 4:10-13.
Throughout this Letter, Paul has been rejoicing even in the midst of hardship.
•Today, we discover why. Today, we discover the crux of his Letter.
Today, we discover what everyone has been searching for – the secret to contentment.
I. PAUL REJOICES OVER THEIR CONCERN.
10I REJOICE GREATLY IN THE LORD THAT AT LAST YOU HAVE RENEWED YOUR CONCERN FOR ME.
“Your concern has blossomed again/revived.”
Once again, Paul rejoices, this time in their concern for him.
Paul is thanking them for their gift that was sent with Epaphroditus (v. 18).
INDEED, YOU HAVE BEEN CONCERNED, BUT YOU HAD NO OPPORTUNITY TO SHOW IT.
Not that you weren’t concerned before, but now I rejoice because you were able to convert that concern into action.
Their concern led to their generosity.
Having said, that, however, Paul realizes his need to clarify some things.
II. PAUL RESTS IN HIS CONTENTMENT.
11I AM NOT SAYING THIS BECAUSE I AM IN NEED,
This is a powerful point. Paul didn’t really need their gift.
•Yes, he was in prison. Yes, he probably had real financial concerns.
What he is saying is that while he appreciates their gift, he’s not dependent upon it or motivated by it (Thielman).
He never begged them for money. He never preached for gain.
He’s not saying, “Now I can breathe easier, now that I’m satisfied, I can be content.”
A. His joy was not dependent on having his needs met!
“Thanks for the gift, but I’m still rejoicing/content even if you hadn’t sent it.”
How could Paul make that claim? How did he discover real contentment?
B. His contentment was a learning process.
FOR I HAVE LEARNED TO BE CONTENT WHATEVER THE CIRCUMSTANCES.
Paul’s word choice here is actually a slap in the face of the Stoics.
•It literally means “self-sufficient, free from concern/need from others.”
•He’s found self-sufficiency/contentment, but not in himself; it comes from God.
A similar word is found in 2 Cor. 9:8 GOD IS ABLE TO MAKE ALL GRACE ABOUND TO YOU, SO THAT IN ALL THINGS AT ALL TIMES, HAVING ALL THAT YOU NEED, YOU WILL ABOUND IN EVERY GOOD WORK.
And this contentment isn’t something he discovered one day.
•It’s been a learning process. “I have learned to be content.” He learned (A.) and…
C. His contentment was not dependent upon circumstances.
So how did he learn real contentment?
1. He learned through experience.
12I KNOW WHAT IT IS TO BE IN NEED (humbled), AND I KNOW WHAT IT IS TO HAVE PLENTY (prosperity).
I HAVE LEARNED THE SECRET OF BEING CONTENT IN ANY AND EVERY SITUATION, WHETHER WELL FED (fattened, satisfied) OR HUNGRY, WHETHER LIVING IN PLENTY OR IN WANT (coming up short).
He had personally experienced the whole spectrum of the have’s and the have not’s.
(Wiersbe) “Paul was never a victim of circumstances.”
Illus. How many times do we think, “if only I had this, I would be happy.”
•If only we had more money, if only I wasn’t sick or in pain, if only…”
Paul says, “I don’t need the “if only’s”. I’ve been with them and without them.
•“I’m content no matter what.”
2. He learned through dependence.
This was the real secret to contentment. This was his greatest discovery.
13I CAN DO EVERYTHING THROUGH HIM WHO GIVES ME STRENGTH (empowers me, “infuses strength into me”).
He didn’t need their money or their provisions. All he needed was Christ.
“As long as I have Christ, I’m content.” The flip side of this is also just as true.
•I can do nothing apart from Him and I will never find contentment apart from Him.
In other words, if you’re struggling today with discovering real contentment, it could be because you haven’t discovered total dependence upon God for all your needs.
(Wiersbe) “If we depend on our own power, we will fail; but if we depend on His strength, we can do all things through Him. This explains why Paul could rejoice even in prison: he had learned the secret of the secure mind through the power of God.”
So Paul says, “Thanks for your gift, but just for the record, I don’t need your money to be happy. All I need and all I have has already been found in Christ alone.”