What is the secret of contentment?
How can someone find true satisfaction and contentment in life?
Do you have everything you need?
Is there anything that you think you lack?
What is the difference between a “need” and a “want”?
The central teaching of our text today in Philippians 4 addresses contentment. I’m warning you now, this text cuts deep into the heart of our materialistic idolatry, but will show us how to be truly content and satisfied in the Christian life.
Be Content (4:10-14)
In Philippians 4:10-14 the Apostle Paul explains how thankful he is to the Lord for the generosity of the Philippian church. They gave to him generously on multiple occasions and would have given more if they had the opportunity. He tells of how all of his needs were met and that he knew that Christ would always provide exactly what he needed to fulfill his ministry calling. Then he says what I find truly astounding. Paul tells them that he “learned” to be content in all circumstances. Whether full or hungry, rich or poor he was content in Christ. He is content in his current situation, which happens to be a Roman prison!
Paul lived in poverty and suffering for most of his life after his conversion to Christianity, so how is it that h can say he is “content” in this lifestyle? Paul understood that his “needs” consisted of nothing more than food and clothing. 1 Timothy 1:8 says “And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” He learned this from our Lord Jesus who taught us in Matthew 6:25-34 to not worry, but trust in God to provide these things. Paul learned through suffering and loss that Christ was all he needed.
He understood that “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” He said in 2 Corinthians 12:10 “Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” Paul understood that contentment comes from faith through humility. He was a living example of the humility taught in Philippians 2:1-4. Contentment begins by understanding that others are better than you and that you are to look out for their interests and not your own. Contentment can be grasped through faith in Christ by understanding that all we “need” is food and clothing.
This teaching wages war with our ego and sin nature. I pray the Holy Spirit will fill us and strengthen our faith so that we will also learn to be content in all circumstances. I pray we will learn to be satisfied in Christ alone and will stop chasing the materialistic idols and vain philosophies of this world.
Give Generously (4:15-20)
When we are content in Christ we will likely give more generously. The church at Philippi was known for this generosity. When you give to the ministry of the gospel you make a deposit to your spiritual bank account. The Lord Jesus taught us in Matthew 6:19-21 to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven, not treasures on earth that moth and rust can destroy. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
So then, how should we give and how much? From a heart of worship, as the Lord purposes us to, and with joy. 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 says “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”
So let us turn from our selfishness and greed to Jesus and find true contentment and satisfaction in Christ. Let us give generously with joy as an act of worship to our Lord Jesus for His glory.
Blessings in Christ,