Sermon

Learning to be Content (Philippians 4:10-13)

We learned in our previous sermon that if we surrender the battlefield in our mind to our enemy, we will become miserable, resentful, bitter, ineffective, and unfruitful in our service for Christ Jesus. One dangerous result for a Christian is to be discontent. Discontentment is dangerous for a Christian because it is the state of not being satisfied. It means you are not satisfied with God and believe He is treating you unjustly: either withheld what you think you deserve or given you what you think you do not deserve. Christians must learn to be content (Phil 4:11) in Christ. Only then will we not be prisoners to our circumstances and able to have a joyful, enduring faith. 

A Quick Word of Caution. Before we go much further, we need to establish what Paul means when he speaks of contentment. Contentment is spiritual complacency (lukewarm) or being content with indwelling sin. We must pursue holiness “without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14). We have good work to do (Eph 2:10) and we must not be lazy, unfruitful, and ineffective Christians. It is proper for us to not be satisfied with our current spiritual maturity as we desire to grow in faith, hope, and love.

The Search for Contentment

Everyone is in search of contentment, but most people fail to find it. We cannot find our contentment in the things of this world because they cannot and will not satisfy us. Did your last “must have” purchase make you happy or content? If so, for how long? It is amazing how often we convince ourselves that there is something (or someone) out there that can make us happy and content. That’s because contentment is not “found”; it is “learned”. Charles Spurgeon once said, “Contentment is not a quality that comes naturally but a discipline to be acquired gradually.” How do we learn to be content? This brings us to the secret to contentment.

The Secret to Contentment

In Philippians 4:10-13, the Apostle Paul rejoiced that the church in Philippi had provided for him in his need. The Philippians loved Paul and when they heard he was in prison, sent Epaphroditus to deliver a gift to help meet his needs (4:18). While Paul was thankful for their help, he assured them that he would have been okay without it because “I have learned in whatever state I am in to be content.” How did Paul learn to be content? What was the secret to his contentment? Remember, to be content means that you are satisfied. Therefore, contentment means “having enough”. The next obvious question is: “Enough of what?”

The secret to contentment is to understand and acknowledge that when you have Christ; you have all you need (e.g., enough). All you need is Christ and everything else (money, houses, cars, computers, clothes, etc.) are given or withheld from us by God in order to develop, cultivate, and strengthen our relationship with Him (Rom 8:28) and to conform us into the image of Christ (Rom 8:29). If you are satisfied with Jesus and acknowledge that He is all you need, you have all you want, you will be content, you will have enough. This is how Paul can be content in hunger and plenty, in abundance and in need. This is how Paul can say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (4:13). These things did not remove his contentment because in all of these situations of life, because he has Christ, he always had enough. This is something Paul learned and is something for us to learn as well. Contentment is a virtue that must be learned. It is not an easy task, but it is worthwhile because it is the process God uses to break us from our love for the world and the things of the world (1 John 2:15).

The Satisfaction of Contentment

The satisfaction of contentment is that with Christ we can be satisfied and find rest for our souls. Jesus summarized the contentment He provides in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” You will not find contentment in a bottle or a box or in someone else. Contentment only comes from Christ and when you rest in Him, you have enough. Knowing Christ and resting in Him means you have:

  • A Christ-honoring view of possessions. Our possessions are to be viewed as gifts from God (James 1:17) to be used for His glory. When our possessions possess our hearts, they become idols. When we are more concerned about serving others and giving to those in need, we demonstrate that Jesus satisfies us and is all we need.
  • A Christ-honoring view of myself and others. Humility breeds contentment. C.S. Lewis once wisely said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less.” Other people are not instruments to be used to maximize your own personal happiness, but fellow “image bearers” (Gen 1:26) to be served and loved. When we treat others with respect and humble ourselves, we demonstrate that Jesus satisfies us and is all we need.
  • A Christ-honoring view of God. There is only one God and you are not Him. It is liberating to surrender yourself, your calendar, your to-do lists, your past, your present, and your future to God. When we surrender to God and live our lives for Christ, we demonstrate that Jesus satisfies us and is all we need.

We must learn to be content (Phil 4:11) in Christ so that we will never be prisoners to our circumstances and therefore be able to have a joyful, enduring faith. Contentment means that we do not see Christianity as a set of rules to obey or activities to complete, but a vibrant, personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He loves us and wants us to rejoice in Him. Do you want true and lasting contentment? Be satisfied with Jesus and confess, “He is enough!”