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

Dr. 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
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

(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

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

- 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.

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
- 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."

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and four grandchildren.

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

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video