Philippians 4:10-19 - The Christian's Contentment

Steve Viars April 27, 1996 Philippians 4:10-19

- READ Phil. 4:10-19

- there are at least two very important issues that come up in these
   verses...
     1) Paul's reaction to the financial gift the church had sent
     2) The church's faithfulness in sending that gift.

- Since those tow topics would take us off in two different directions,
    we're going to take one today and one next week.

- this morning, we're talking about:
           "The Christian's Contentment In Good Times and Bad"

- let's begin by thinking about:

I. The Occasion of Paul's Contentment

   - Paul said in verse 10:  (READ again)

   - there's a sense in which you could view the book of Philippians as a
      "thank-you" letter.

   - now, Paul's not making a "barb" here when he says "now at last you
       have revived your concern."

   - that would not fit the tone of the passage.
      - apparently, the church had wanted to help lighten Paul's load
         since he was in prison, but for some reason was unable to do so.
           (could have been because there was no messenger available---
              the text just doesn't say)

   - but now they have given the gift, and Paul wants them to know how
       much he appreciates it.

   - now please notice that Paul's response to the gift was:
      "I rejoiced greatly in the Lord"

   - that’s very important, because he had told the Philippians to live
      that way themselves earlier in this chapter.

   - but please notice the connection between this gift, and Paul
      turning to God in praise and thanksgiving.
    - in order to do that, he had to avoid responding in some sinful ways
       that would have caused him to miss this occasion for rejoicing:

         1) being filled with self...

             - "I deserved this gift.  I'm the great missionary church
                planter.  these people would be in trouble without me.  I
                deserve this money."

                   (There wouldn't have been any rejoicing in the Lord if
                      that had been his spirit.)

        2) being filled with pity

            - "Its been so tough without this money all these months.
               And I'm still in prison, so what good is money.  Poor
               me...."

               (Again, there wouldn't have been much rejoicing if thats
                 where he was coming from.)

        3) being filled with criticism

            - "Why didn't you get it here sooner?  Don't you care about
               me?  If you people really appreciated me, you would have
               found a way to perform this act a lot sooner than you
               did."

        4) being filled with worry

            - "Sure, this will tide me over for a while.  But what about
               next year?  What am I going to do then?  I'm going to
               starve.  This will be the last gift I ever receive."

- the point is that Paul had been rejoicing (we'll see that more clearly
   in a minute) and he used this occasion of the gift to "rejoice in the
   Lord greatly."

- people who are in the habit of rejoicing in God find occasions to do
   that all the time...
      - People who aren't miss the ones that are even right in front of
          their noses.

(cf. children with disabilities -- Kris' response)


- in verse 11, Paul takes this another important step forward:
- READ 11

- William Hendricksen says of this verse:

    "The satisfaction of a material need must not be construed as being
     either the real reason for or the measure of my joy.  On the
     contrary, regardless of my outward circumstances, I would still be
     satisfied. My conversion experience, and also my subsequent trials
     for the sake of Christ and his gospel, have taught me a lesson.  The
     path which I have traveled led me even closer to Christ, to his
     love, and to his power, yes to Christ and contentment in Him.  That
     very contentment is riches to me."
- so we've talked about the OCCASION of Paul's contentment, now let's
   think about:

II. The Nature of Paul's Contentment

    - there's three things I'd especially like us to focus on here:

    A. This is something he learned

        - INPUT - why is it significant that Paul says in verse 11 -- "I
            have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am."

              1) It didn't come natural, even for him.

              2) The great church planter was still learning (consistent
                  with what he had said earlier in the book)

              3) Contentment is a process.

        - INPUT - What question should we ask ourselves from this point?
              (How far have I progressed in learning this particular
                 subject?)


        - INPUT - Implications to child-rearing?

 

- Warren Wiersbe helps us understand the kind of contentment Paul is
   speaking about when he says...
     "Contentment is not complacency, nor is it false peace based on
      ignorance.  the complacent believer is unconcerned about others,
      while the contented Christian wants to share the blessings.
      Contentment is not escape from the battle, but rather an abiding
      peace and confidence in the midst of the battle."

(if time -- Wiersbe has some good personal illus. on page 98)

    B. Something that works when times are bad.

        - one of the most important things to note about this text is
          that contentment didn't just come after Paul received the gift.
        - In fact, that’s the point of the verse...Paul had learned how to
           be content regardless of his circumstances.

        - now, let's think for a moment about just how bad Paul's
            circumstances had gotten in his ministry.

        - (as time allows, look at passages like Acts 14:19, 16:22-25,
             17:13, 18:12, 20:3, II Cor. 4:11, 6:4, 5, 11:27, 33)


        - Paul is right in verse 12 when he says "I know how to get along
           with humble means."

- so contentment in Christ (we're going to study the "in Christ" part in
   just a moment is possible regardless of one's circumstances)

INPUT - personal examples of when times in your life were hard, but God
          gave contentment and growth?

- INPUT - Implications of all of this to Maslow's hierarchy of needs?

    C. Something that works when times are good.

        - this may sound strange, but the Scripture teaches us that
            contentment doesn't come naturally, even when times are good.

        - Prov. 30:8-9


        - Mark 10:23-25


        - Rev. 3:15-17

        - INPUT - when times are good, what sins might a person develop
                    instead of godly, biblical contentment?

- of course the bottom line of what we're speaking about today comes from
   verse 13.
- READ

III. The Source of Paul's Contentment

    Jay Adams - "What is the secret of content, worry-free rejoicing?
                 Drawing on the strength of Christ.  The verse doesn't
                 say that one can do anything he wants, but that he can
                 do the things that Paul discusses in his epistle through
                 the strength that Christ provides.  How does He provide
                 it?  Through the acceptance of biblical truth."


    - one of the great blessings of salvation is our union with Jesus
      Christ.
         - cf. Phil. 3:9

         - II Tim. 4:17

         - II Cor. 12:9

         - I Tim. 1:12


    - this approach is much different than the stoics of the day.  (who
       also spoke of contentment)
    - Homer kent - In Stoic philosophy, "content" described a person who
        passively accepted whatever came.  Circumstances that he could
        not change were regarded as the will of God, and fretting was
        useless.  This philosophy fostered a self-sufficiency in which
        all the resources for coping with life were located within man
        himself.  In contrast, Paul locates his sufficiency in Christ who
        provides strength for believers."

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

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