TEXT: Philippians 4:11
TOPIC: Living the Contented Life
Pastor Bobby Earls, First Baptist Church, Center Point, Alabama
Sunday morning, August 2, 2009
(Sermon outline by the Rev. Francis W. Dixon, Lansdowne Baptist Church, Bournemouth, England)
11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:
Philippians 4:11 (NKJV)
NOW – We all live in a world that promotes dissatisfaction with our lives. We are constantly bombarded with newer and better things that promise to make our lives more complete if only we would obtain them! If we listen to the world, we will always be comparing the lifestyles and possessions of others with our own, and we will always be dissatisfied.
THEN – The Apostle Paul had learned how to live a life of contentment. You have to love and respect a man like Paul. He could say “I have learned in whatever state I am in, to be content.”
Paul was content in sickness or in health. He was content in affluence or in poverty. Paul was content in strength or in weakness; content when he was abased or content when he was abounding. He was content when he was full or when he was hungry. Paul was content at all times!
When Paul wrote these words he was in Nero’s prison in Rome. Paul had enjoyed power and status among his people. Raised in the lap of luxury. Now he was deprived of many of life’s barest necessities. Yet he could happily say, “I am content.”
Paul never knew most of the pleasures and amenities of life we take for granted today. Yet he could give them all up and still be filled with the joy of the Lord. His contentment did not depend on his environment but on his relationship with Christ.
ALWAYS – The Bible teaches that we can learn to live a life of contentment. Not a contentment that comes from possessions, activities, or other people, for these can be changed or taken away. But a life of contentment that comes from our relationship with Jesus Christ. There is absolutely nothing that can take that away.
Someone has said that contentment frees you to enjoy every good thing God has given you. Contentment demonstrates your belief that God loves you and has your best interest in mind.
I came across this definition of contentment, “Contentment is when we become convinced that our resources in Christ Jesus are more than adequate for every situation in life that we face. “
This morning we are going to spend a few moments looking at the marvelous fourth chapter of Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Philippians 4 is full of wonderful principles that can help each of learn to live the contented life.
I. CONTENTMENT COMES WHEN WE UNDERSTAND THE PURPOSE OF GOD,
And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life. Philippians 4:3 (NKJV)
This 3rd verse reminds us that as Christians our names are recorded in God’s Book of Life. This also reminds us that our salvation is the result of God’s eternal purpose in Christ.
Contentment begins when we as Christians understand and appreciate the purpose of God in our salvation. Jesus taught His disciples that the primary reason for our rejoicing is the confidence that our names are written down eternally in heaven. Luke 10:20 (NKJV), says,
Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
II. CONTENTMENT COMES WHEN WE PRACTICE THE PRESENCE OF GOD,
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things.
Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)
Philippians 4:8 gives us six great virtues or character traits found in the lives of believers who are practicing the presence of God in their lives.
A. Truth, whatever things are true, absolute honesty.
B. Honor, whatever things are noble, that which is worthy
C. Justice, whatever things are just, that which is right or righteous
D. Purity, whatever things are pure, inward purity, clean and holy
E. Loveliness, whatever things are lovely, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NKJV)
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
F. Good Report, a character above reproach; a winning, attractive personality.
Living such a life of Christian distinction can only be accomplished by practicing the presence of Holy God in our lives. When we do, we live experience contentment.
III. CONTENTMENT COMES WHEN WE FELLOWSHIP WITH THE PEOPLE OF GOD,
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.
Philippians 4:10 (NKJV)
Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress.
Philippians 4:14 (NKJV)
Like Paul, we know contentment in our lives when they are lived in harmony with and appreciation for our Christian brothers and sisters. We are family. We are a spiritual family, the family of God. Listen again to how lovingly Paul expresses his care for his spiritual family at Philippi in verse one.
IV. CONTENTMENT COMES WHEN WE EXPERIENCE THE PEACE OF GOD,
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV)
It should not be overlooked that Paul also emphasizes the importance of prayer in the life of a believer in these verses. Instead of anxiety or worry, Paul recommends prayer, supplication and thanksgiving. He instructs us to let our requests be known to God. Tell God about it.
He says when we replace worry with prayer; we will also know peace, the peace of God. This is a peace that cannot necessarily be explained but experienced! There is a beautiful word picture here in verse 7. It’s found in the word guard. The word means to set up a guard or sentinel over one’s heart, to guard or protect one’s heart, and we might even say one’s mind, which leads to peace and contentment.
V. CONTENTMENT COMES WHEN WE REALIZE THE POWER OF GOD,
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)
This is really the secret to true contentedness. Knowing and experiencing the power of God or Jesus Christ living within us. It is Christ in us, the hope of Glory who enables us to know true contentedness.
VI. CONTENTMENT COMES WHEN WE RECEIVE THE PROVISION OF GOD,
And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19 (NKJV)
What a wonderful promise from God’s word. Moody called Philippians 4:19 God’s blank check. In God’s economy, the bank will never go bankrupt. He promises to supply all our need not our wants. He has plenty of capital, according to His riches; the bank’s location is found in glory, and Christ Jesus is our guarantor!
How we today in such a materialistic society need to understand the words of Paul as he also told his young son in the faith, Timothy.
1 Timothy 6:8 (NKJV), And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
VII. CONTENTMENT COMES WHEN WE ANTICIPATE THE PAROUSIA OF GOD,
Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.
Philippians 4:5 (NKJV)
20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.
Philippians 3:20-21 (NKJV)
May I teach you a new word or phrase you may not know? It is the Greek word parousia, and refers to the coming of the Lord or the sudden presence of the Lord.
Contentment comes as we begin to live with a holy expectation and anticipation of the soon and certain return of our Lord Jesus Christ. We find ourselves praying the prayer of the Revelator John who prayed, “Even so come Lord Jesus.”
So we learn from this tremendous chapter that the secret of Paul’s contentment was the Lord Himself—His Purpose, His Presence, His People, His Peace, His Power, His Provision and His Parousia.
Do you know Him? Is Christ in your life? Is He the source of contentment?