Learning Contentment – 3

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Scripture Text – Philippians 4:10-23

Contentment is neither complacency, nor is it a false peace based on ignorance. The complacent believer is unconcerned about others, whether personally or situationally, while the contented Christian wants to share his blessings compassionately. Contentment is not escape from a battle, but rather an abiding peace and confidence in the midst of a battle. “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” – Philippians 4:11. Two words in that verse are vitally and especially important – “learned and content.”

The word learned is a verb that means “learned by and through experience.” Paul’s spiritual contentment was not something he had immediately received after he was saved. He had to go through many difficult experiences of life in order to learn how to be content. The word content actually means “contained.” It is a description of a person whose resources are within themselves so that they does not have to depend on substitutes externally. The Greek word means “self-sufficient” and was a favorite word of the stoic philosophers. But the Christian is not sufficient in himself; he is sufficient in Christ. Because Christ lives within us, we have all the adequacies necessary for the demands of this life.

We’re going to conclude with the last of the three wonderful spiritual resources that Paul names which help to make us adequate and give us contentment.

The Unchanging Promise of God

Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress. Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. – Philippians 4:14-20.

Paul thanks the church at Philippi for their generous gift. He compares their giving to three very familiar things.

et joy of contentment

A budding tree (verse 10). The word “flourished” carries the idea of a flower or tree budding or blossoming. Often we go through “winter seasons” spiritually, but then the spring arrives and there is new life and blessing. The tree itself is not picked up and moved; the circumstances are not changed. The difference is the new life within.

An investment (verses 14–17). Paul looked on their missionary gift as an investment that would pay them rich spiritual dividends. The church entered into an arrangement of “giving and receiving.” The church at Philippi gave materially to Paul, and received spiritually from the Lord. The Lord keeps the books and will never fail to pay one spiritual dividend! The church is poor that fails to share materially with others.

A sacrifice (verse 18). Paul looked on their gift as a spiritual sacrifice, laid on the altar to the glory of God. There are such things as “spiritual sacrifices” in the Christian life (see 1 Peter 2:5). We are to yield our bodies as spiritual sacrifices (Romans 12:1–2), as well as the praise of our lips (Hebrews 13:15). Good works are a sacrifice to the Lord (Hebrew 13:16), and so are the lost souls that we are privileged to win to Christ (Romans 15:16). Here, Paul sees the Philippian believers as priests, giving their offering as a sacrifice to the Lord. In the light of Malachi 1:6–14, we need to present the very finest that we have to the Lord.

But Paul does not see this gift as simply coming from Philippi. He sees it as the supply of his need from heaven. Paul’s trust was in the Lord. There is an interesting contrast between Philippians 4:18 and 19. We might state it this way if we were to paraphrase Paul:

“You met my need, and God is going to meet your need. You met one need that I have, but my God will meet all of your needs. You gave out of your poverty, but God will supply your needs out of His riches in glory!”

However, God has not promised to supply all our “greeds.” When the child of God is in the will of God, serving for the glory of God, then he will have every need met. Hudson Taylor often said:

“When God’s work is done in God’s way for God’s glory, it will not lack for God’s supply.”

Contentment comes from adequate resources. Our resources are the providence of God, the power of God, and the promises of God. These resources made Paul sufficient for every demand of life, and they can make us sufficient in every demand that life has for us also.

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Adaptation of excerpts from Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary Volume 2.
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, NKJV © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.

About Roland Ledoux

Pastor of Oasis Bible Ministry, an outreach ministry of teaching, encouragement and intercessory prayer from the Holy Bible, the written Word of God and author of the ministry website, For The Love of God. He lives in Delta, Colorado with his beautiful wife of 50+ years and a beautiful yellow lab whom they affectionately call Bella.
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3 Responses to Learning Contentment – 3

  1. atimetoshare.me says:

    Roland I truly reap so much from your daily writings. I don’t always comment but I want you to know that you are touching my heart with God’s Word and truth. Happy thanksgiving to you and your family,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sister Kathy, to God be the Glory. And yes, Sue and I have so much to be thankful for this year. God has abundantly blessed us with many things through trial and testing as I’m sure He has for you and Paul. We are keeping your family in prayer and I hope you are recovering. May your time of Thanksgiving with Paul and any others in your family be abundantly blessed, in Jesus Mighty and Precious Name!!
      And Sis, don’t fret about not commenting. Many times when I visit blogs I do but just as many times I don’t either as I allow the Lord to let the lessons or posts sink in. God bless you oh so much!

      Liked by 1 person

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