The Secret To Contentment

The Secret To Contentment

We can find contentment because Jesus is enough!

I want to ask you a question this morning.  First will be in Philippians Chapter 4, closing out our series, Advancing the Gospel Together.  Philippians 4:10-13.  You may be very familiar with one of the verses in this passage, and so we’ll be looking at that in depth in just a few minutes, but I want to ask you this question.  Are you content with your life?  Are you content with your life?  The dictionary defines contentment as a state of peaceful happiness or a state of satisfaction.  Are you in a state of peaceful happiness with your life?  Are you in a state of satisfaction with your life?

To ponder that question, I want to read to you a poem by Jason Lehman that I think expresses the thought well:

It was spring, but it was summer I wanted,
The warm days, and the great outdoors.
It was summer, but it was autumn I wanted,
The colorful leaves, and the cool, dry air.
It was autumn, but it was winter I wanted,
The beautiful snow, and the joy of the holiday season.
It was winter, but it was spring I wanted,
The warmth and the blossoming of nature.
I was a child, but it was adulthood I wanted,
The freedom and respect.
I was 20, but it was 30 I wanted,
To be mature, and sophisticated.
I was middle-aged, but it was 20 I wanted,
The youth and the free spirit.
I was retired, but it was middle-age I wanted,
The presence of mind without limitations.
My life was over, and I never got what I wanted.

Does that poem resonate with you this morning?  I know the second part does with me when I was 13, all I wanted to be was 16, right?  So I could get a car.  I could have freedom.  I could go wherever I wanted to go that my parents would let me.  When I was 16, all I wanted to be was 18.  Because there’s privileges of being an adult when I when you’re 18.  When I was 18, all I wanted to be was 20.  Now you may think 20’s an odd age, but I wanted to be 20 because I was tired of being a teenager.  When I was 20, all I wanted to be was 23.  Because I was going to graduate college when I was 23.  When I was 23, all I wanted to be was 24, because I was going to get married at 24.  When I was 24, all I wanted to be was 30.  When I was 33, all I wanted to be was 37. No. When I was 30, when I was 30, all I wanted to be was 34 or somewhere in there. Man, I’m getting old enough now I can’t remember how old I was.  But what I wanted was to finish seminary.  And now I kind of miss those seminary days.  I don’t miss driving back and forth.  I kind of miss the days of high school when you’re playing football and hanging out with your friends.  And yet, at 37, I can still think there’s things that I want. Do you relate to that this morning? Does that resonate in your life?

An interesting fact.  There was a time in this nation’s history when 90% of the population did not have a cell phone.  Did not have access to the internet.  Did not have a car.  Did not have a refrigerator.  Did not have a washing machine.   Did not have an air conditioner.  Did not have a dishwasher or a microwave. Now the dishwasher thing I haven’t had in about 7 months and I greatly missed my dishwasher.  And I couldn’t figure out how the one at the new house work yesterday, the technology has advanced greatly.

Today 90% of people own all of those things. And you know what we’ve learned?  It’s not enough, is it?  We have a microwave.  We want a better microwave.  We have a refrigerator.  We want a better refrigerator.

The invention of the cell phone was a fantastic thing.  We may not think so today because we’re connected to everybody, but as someone who lived most of his early teen life without a cell phone, I have watched this evolve with technology.  Here’s what I remember.  Cell phones were really big and really bulky.  Then there was a race to make them as small as humanly possible.  I remember the last really thin one was that Razr cell phone that came out years and years ago because it wanted to be small.  It had to fit in our pockets.  That’s what we wanted.

But then something happened.  The technology developed that turned our cell phones into mini-computers, so it was no longer talking to people or texting people.  We could watch videos and all of a sudden what happened?  They started getting bigger and bigger.  Now we’ve got to have a bigger screen, a bigger phone.  They don’t even fit in our pockets anymore.  The evolution of the cell phone has been just absolutely amazing to watch because it illustrates no matter what we have, we want more.

We are a culture of people who are discontent with what we have.  But don’t worry, it’s nothing new.  The idea of discontentment has been around for generations.  In fact, it’s been around since the creation of time.  Did you know Adam and Eve lived in a perfect paradise of peaceful bliss?  Adam and Eve had everything they could have ever wanted.  And yet Satan shows up and tempts them with more.  And in their restless hearts, they rebelled against God because they bought into the idea that if they had a little bit more, their life would be better.

The Apostle Paul shares with us today that the idea of discontentment has a solution.  It is a Jesus solution and we can find contentment because Jesus is enough for us.  With all of our circumstances.  With all that we have, all we really need to be content, to be at a peaceful state of happiness is Jesus Christ.

Here’s what Paul writes in verse 10.  “I rejoiced in the Lord greatly because once again you renewed your care for me. You were, in fact, concerned about me but lacked the opportunity to show it.  I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself. I know how to make do with little, and I know how to make do with a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

Let’s pray together.  Father, as we look at Your Word this morning.  May it be a light into our feet and a lamp into our path.  May You speak to us in new ways.  Father, may You draw us into Your presence and Father we want to pray this morning, that if there is anybody in here who has never made that decision to believe, repent and follow, that today would be the day that You change their life for eternity.  We pray that the Word of God would speak into their hearts.  Nothing that I can say will ever do that.  But Your Word is sufficient to speak into their life, and we pray for that this morning.  We pray that it would just help us to apply the truths of contentment as we move forward with our everyday life, facing all kinds of circumstances, we ask this in Jesus Name.  Amen, Amen.

In our text this morning, the Apostle Paul shares three insights about contentment.  Three ways in which you and I can start the path of being at peace with our circumstances.  The first one is be thankful for what God provide.  Be thankful for what the Lord provides.  I’m going to add if you’re taking notes, you can write this down.  Be thankful for what God provides and the people He uses to provide it.  Be thankful for what God provides and the people whom God uses to provide it.  See he opens this section up with “I rejoice greatly in the Lord.”

A theme of joy is woven throughout the fabric of this book and what we see is he is rejoicing because there’s been a renewed companionship between him and the Philippian Church.  As Paul closes out his letter, he wants to make sure he thanks the church for the gift that they have sent through a guy named Epaphroditus.  But notice what he does.  He doesn’t just say hey, thanks for the gift, I appreciate it.  He thanks God for the gift provided through the people.  Paul recognizes that it was God who worked through that church to meet his needs.

Church, I want to I want to ask you a question, are we open to the moving of the Holy Spirit where we allow God to use us to meet the needs of a community?  I think we are today as we are helping support a local ministry.  You see God uses people to meet the needs of other people and that’s what he is done here.  But Paul doesn’t thank them directly.  He doesn’t thank them for the gift directly.  Instead, he thanks the Lord for using them and he thanks the Lord for renewing their care for him.

I love this word that he uses with renewed.  We don’t know what has happened.  But within the 10 years of Paul planning the church, there’s been a disconnect at some point.  They’ve lost touch with each other, and the church lacked an opportunity to support him.  But God has worked in mighty ways to reconnect him, and that word is so fitting for today because we’re entering into spring.  It literally means the blossoming of flowers.  So what Paul is saying, is that I’m so grateful that as we come through a season of being dormant, our relationship is blossoming like the beautiful spring flowers that are exploding in a new season.  The church cares for Paul, and Paul is thankful to the Lord for that.

A few points of application I want to share with you.  One is to be open to how the Holy Spirit can use us to meet the needs of other people.  Two when our needs are met, thank the Lord for the people that He is used to meet those needs.  I said it last week.  I’ll emphasize it again this week.  God likes for us to say thank you.  If you want to be at peace with your life, examine your life and be thankful for everything that God has given you in this life.  Show gratitude.  How is the old hymn go?  Count your blessings, name them one by one?  I can’t sing it.  I can’t even remember the words.  When we remember what we’re thankful for, we’ll begin to be at peace with what we have because we stop focusing on what we don’t have and we focus on what we have. And it’s enough because it’s given to us through Jesus and through the Lord’s work in our life.

The third point of application is we see the importance of relationships.  Paul understands a very important fact.  The Christian life is not a solo mission.  Christians, you can’t do it by yourself.  I mean, I’ve tried many of you have tried.  The importance of good solid Christian relationships is vitally important.  It’s why the life group discipleship program, or Sunday School is so vitally important.  We get small groups of Christians gathered together.  It is so helpful to have a group of people where you can send out a text or make a phone call and you can just say “look something happened to me today or I’m having a bad week, I’m struggling at work, I just need you to pray.”  It is vitally important to be connected not just on a Sunday morning service, but be connected with a small group of believers who can grow spiritually together.  Who can pray together.  Who can worship together.  Who can reach the nations with the Gospel together.  It is so important.  As we’re thankful, we need to know how important it is to have relation.

The first step in learning to be content is to be thankful for what God provides.  The second one is we learn to make do with what God has provided.  Paul says “I don’t say this out of need for I have learned to be content with whatever my circumstances.”  This should be so encouraging.  He says it twice.  He learned it.  It wasn’t like something you got saved and contentment was just snapped right into you.  It’s a learned process.  That’s so encouraging to me because there’s days where I’m not content with anything.  I want more.  I just have to remind myself that I’m trusting in the Lord’s promises. I’m trusting in the Lord’s provision, and God is going to get me through. And the more I experience God’s provision, the more I can see and learn how to be content. Whether I have a lot or whether I have a little.

When I was in school. Now teenagers, I want you to listen to me.  The young kids don’t ever try this.  It does not work.  I have to be careful when I tell stories about me as a teenager.  Because I’m a bad example, I did not study for a test.  Big test.  20% of my grade, didn’t study, didn’t crack a book open. Here’s what I thought.  If I record the notes, I was going to hold a tape recorder, this was back in the Walkman days.  I was going to record the notes.  That’s all I was going to read and then when I went to sleep, I would put that recording on a loop.  My subconscious would just soak in all that knowledge and I would be able to instantaneously recall that knowledge on test day.  So I woke up.  I got this.  I sit down.  I crack open the book that’s got the test and you know what?  I ain’t got a clue.  That first question, I’ve never saw that guy’s name in my life and I’m just sitting there thinking uh-oh!  By God’s grace I made a 36 on that test.  I should have made a 0.  You know, remember that old saying, it used to be true, you just picked C on all your answers?  Apparently, you can get a 36 if you just pick C on all your answers.  But what I’m saying is we have to learn things.

Being content is not something that you’re just going to instantaneously have.  So don’t be discouraged when you experience times of discontentment.  Be encouraged because the Apostle Paul says I had to learn it too.  The apostle Paul says I’ve experienced times when I had a lot.  By the way, we have to learn to be content when we have a lot.  When we have an abundance, we run the risk of losing our dependency upon God, don’t we?  When we have a lot, we’re tempted to be greedy because we want more.  When we have a lot, we still have to learn to be content and how to balance the way we live our life.  When we have a little, we face different temptations.  When we don’t have much again, we face the temptation of greed because we want more.  But with that temptation of greed comes the temptation to steal or cheat to get what we want.  That idea of, you know, we question God.  We doubt God because we just don’t have enough.  We didn’t get what we wanted.

Well, I want to tell you something.  God will provide for every one of your needs, not every one of your wants.  And here’s the thing, God knows what you need more than you know what you need.  Something that you think is a need really isn’t a need.  That big salary package that everybody wants.  Those six figures.  It’s not really a need.  God will provide for your needs to.

Paul says he learned how to be content.  That word content is a philosophical word.  Greek philosophers of the day, here’s what they said.  They talked about contentment this way.  That they were committed to trying to become self-sufficient, relying on themselves and no one else for support.  Contentment to the Greek philosophers is someone whose resources are within, so that they do not depend on substitutes around them.  It is a person that who, through discipline, had become completely independent of external circumstances.  Now I think Paul would agree with some of that.  This is a person who has, by discipline, worked his way to a point where he didn’t care about anything in life.  He is emotionally stable.  He’s emotionally happy.  Doesn’t matter if he’s got a lot of money or not.  The difference is where the Greeks say you have to work to this you have to earn it.  You have to become self-sufficient; Paul says no you don’t.

You don’t have to become self-sufficient because Christ is the one who is sufficient.  That’s what he says in verse 13, and it’s the third insight.  Rely on the strength that God provides through Christ.  Christ is absolutely sufficient for everything that we need in life.  Verse 13 is a verse you probably could say it with me.  In fact, you’ve probably heard it this way.  I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength.  It is a very popular verse.  The CSB does not have the word Christ, it just says “through Him who strengthens me.”  In fact, Paul does not use the word Christ in the text, but it’s very clearly who he is talking about.

There is no doubt that the ‘Him” that Paul is referring to is the Lord Jesus Christ.  So we rely on the strength that God provides. This is the most quoted verse of the Bible other than John 3:16, yet it is the most misapplied of all the verses.  And here’s what I mean.  If that basketball goal lowers down, it’s about 10 foot right?  I am 5 foot 6.  I can quote this verse a million times and you know what I’m not going to be able to do?  Dunk that basketball.  It’s not a belief issue, it’s a height issue.  And not only that, I can only jump about that far off the ground, if that.  So, for me to dunk that goal, it would have to be…if I’m 5’6”, it would have to be 5’8”. That’s about all I’m going to get.

So when Paul says I can do all things here in the context, he’s not talking about all things.  I promise you, if I go outside, say, I’m going to run a marathon.  I’m not going to make it.  It doesn’t matter how much I quote that verse.  I’ll do good to get to the end of the sidewalk down Patterson St.  I was I was on the phone with Chad a few weeks ago walking, I couldn’t talk, I was winded.  That’s like that’s like 20 yards.  That’s not good.

This verse in the context is very clearly talking about the circumstances that Paul finds himself in.  All things is referring to the circumstances that we find ourselves in that could challenge our contentment.  Paul says the secret of living with contentment is found in your Christian commitment.  In your relationship with Christ.  It is the union with Christ that flows from the Savior.  Christ is enough.  So listen, when you get a bad report from the Doctor, that’s what it means.  You get that cancer diagnosis.  You can do all things through Christ.  You know you weren’t expecting that it came out of nowhere.  You can do all things through Christ.  He will give you the strength to get through it.  When you lose your job, that’s bad.  You can do it because you have Christ living inside of you.  You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.

Through all your circumstances, whether you have a lot or whether you have a little, that is what Paul’s talking about.  Through his life, when he was shipwrecked, he can do all things through Christ who gave him the strength to get through it. JB Phillips translates this verse this way. “I am ready for anything, through Him who is living in me.”  We can be ready for anything through Christ, who empowers us and strengthens us.  In this verse God is affectively promising to give us the strength to get through whatever situation we’re in, to get through whatever He has called us to do.  If you’re called to missions and you’re sitting here thinking I can’t sell all my stuff and go to Africa.  Yes, you can, ’cause God gives you strength.  If God is calling you to be a pastor you like.  I’m not a good speaker. I can’t do that. Yes, you can. If God’s called you to it, God will get you through it.

And so it works in all these circumstances, so I’ll ask you, what is God asking you to do today?  What situation has He placed you in?  What challenges are you facing?  What are you suffering through?  What are the pressures that you may be facing at work?  Then to balance it out, what promotion have you experienced where you’re going to need to balance?  What abundance do you have that you need to learn to be content with?  Because you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength?

The secret of contentment is found in that verse.  Relying on the strength of Christ.  The Great missionary Hudson Taylor.  He worked hard for many years.  He had trusted Christ to meet his needs.  He was faithful.  He relied on his faithfulness in God to meet his needs.  Yet Taylor writes that he had no joy, and he had no liberty and ministry.  Even though he was trusting Christ, he was discontent.  One day he received a letter from a friend and in that letter these words were written.  It is not by trusting Christ in my own faithfulness, but by looking away to the Faithful One.

Essentially, what that friend told Hudson Taylor was stop relying on your faithfulness and rely on Christ’s faithfulness.  Hudson Taylor says it was a moment that changed his life forever, because from that moment on he drew not on his own power, but from the power of Christ.  I want to ask you a question this morning.  Are you focused on Christ or are you focused on your stuff?  Are you focused on your circumstances, your strength, your ability, or are you focused on the Savior?

This week as I was studying this passage, I was reminded of a time when 5,000 plus people follow Jesus around.  They saw Jesus do a lot of cool stuff. They saw miracles. They heard Him teach one day. They experienced a great miracle. Jesus fed 5,000 people with small loaves of bread and small fish and they had leftovers.  The next day, that group, that crowd shows back up and they want breakfast.  Jesus sees it as an opportunity to tell them about the spiritual needs.  He met physical needs the day before.  Now He’s going to teach them about a spiritual need.  So it begins to teach them that if they would believe in Him, if they would believe in Jesus, and then one who sent Jesus, they would be saved.  He begins to teach them that He is the bread of life, that they don’t need breakfast to sustain them, they just need Jesus.

And look honestly when you read John 6, it’s a really hard teaching.  So hard that we read in John 6:66, “from that moment, many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him.”  All Jesus said was I’m enough.  Many of those thousands of people turned around and didn’t follow Him.  One of the most heartbreaking things in Scripture.  When I hear that and what we read next, you can just see Jesus in the tears ’cause Jesus came to seek and save the lost.  Jesus came because He had a desire to see every person on this planet saved.  And all these people just turned away after hearing the truth.

Man, that happens today, doesn’t it?  People hear the truth on Sunday mornings, Wednesday nights or anytime and they just turn away.  So Jesus, with these tears in His eyes, He looks to His 12 disciples and He says these, words.  “You don’t wanna go away to do you?”  He asked them.  Do you want to leave Me?  Peter, in one of his rare moments of just being the rock replies this way.  “Lord, whom will we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  We have come to believe and know that You are the Holy One of God.”  What Peter said is this.  What we have seen and learned, You’re the only one we need.  Where else can we go?  We’re not going to find salvation anywhere else other than Jesus.  We’re not going to find peace or contentment anywhere else but Jesus.  And so those 12 stayed.

And today I’m reminded of something completely different than that too.  Today, 2,000 years ago, a crowd of people lined the streets of Jerusalem, waving palm branches laying down their coats, and they welcomed Jesus into the Holy City.  They wanted to anoint him as a King because He was going to kick out the Romans.  He was going to change the religious order.  Thousands of people and I bet the disciples ate it up. But I wondered what Jesus thought as He rode on that donkey and He watched these crowds.  ’cause Jesus knows what’s going to happen by the end of the week.

See all these people, nowhere will you find them on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  The ones who welcomed Him into Jerusalem.  Heard him teach that He was enough.  Heard Him teach about the coming of the King.  The hard truths that they needed to hear, and they turned their back on Him.  Many of these people are going to be shouting “Crucify Him!” by the end of the week.

So let me ask you.  Are you in the crowd of people who are going to leave here today, not following?  Or are you gonna make a decision to stay with Jesus or are you going to make a decision for the first time to call on Jesus as your Lord and Savior?  Let me ask you this, have you surrendered it all to the One who paid it all?  Have you surrendered at all to the One who paid it all?

Listen, the idea of contentment doesn’t mean your life is going to get easier.  It doesn’t mean your life is going to get better, it just means you’re going to have enough.  Christ is enough to save you from your sin.  You can make that decision today. Jesus, throughout the New Testament, taught that if you would believe in Him and His Father, that if we would confess your sins and believe in your heart, that you would be saved.  If you would repent and make a decision to follow.  All you have to do follow Jesus.

I mean, it sounds simple, but it is kind of complicated because you have to surrender every aspect of your life to the Lord.  Are you ready to do that today?  Are you ready to say I am going to step out and follow the Savior?  Surrender it all to the One who paid it all because He is a good Father who loves me who sent His Son to die for me.  The good news is, if you’ve been turning your back on Jesus for a long time, He still has His arms wide open waiting for you.  The crowd who abandoned Him, He would gladly welcome them back today.

Don’t leave here without knowing that you are a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The secret of contentment is found in three words.  Jesus is enough.

Father, we are so grateful for this day.  We are grateful for the book of Philippians and the wonderful truths in it.  And I pray today, if there’s someone here that You would just speaking to them.  That they are ready to make that decision to follow You.  That today they would just step out on faith.  That they would come down here and give their life to the Lord Jesus.  Father, don’t let them be ashamed to stay where they’re at.  Don’t let them be afraid of all the people who will be watching.  Father, just let them surrender their life to You.  Father, let the Gospel transform all of us as we learn to find contentment.  We ask all these things in Jesus’ Name Amen, Amen.