Three Keys to Christian Contentment. Sermon of Dr. Jason Allen
In reading this text, we find that the idea of contentment dominates these four verses and clearly is the central idea of the passage. Interestingly, the word for content in verse 11 appears only here in the Bible, and it means to have enough or not to be in need or want of something.
This issue of contentment is a pressing concern in the current age, as it is apparent that affluent Americans need a lesson in contentment. We have a fundamental lack of contentment. Non-Christian thinkers argue that the key to contentment is not to possess much, but to desire little.
But, is that the case? Paul demonstrates in this text that the Christian solution to a lack of contentment is actually much different.
1. Contentment Comes by Remembering the Lord’s Providence in Your Life (v. 10)
The first secret to contentment is to remember the Lord’s providence in your life. God most often weaves the events and actions of life together in the course of our daily routine to bring about His perfect will.
Often we don’t see the higher plane of events, which is why God’s providence has been referred to as “the invisible hand of God in human circumstance.” In order to find contentment, Paul reminds us that we must remember God’s providence in our circumstances.
2. Contentment Comes by Refusing to Focus on Your Circumstances (vv. 11–12)
Second, contentment comes by refusing to focus on your circumstances. Even though Paul was facing financial duress, he says, “I am not in want.” Moreover, he states “I have learned” to be content. Contentedness is a growth process and we, like Paul, must learn it again and again and again and again. What has Paul learned?
a. Contentment is not achieved through the right circumstances.
b. Contentment may be enjoyed in spite of circumstances.
c. Contentment should not depend on circumstances.
d. Contentment should transcend circumstances.
e. Circumstances are like the tide of the ocean, ebbing and flowing.
f. Circumstances are like the weather, stormy one day and sunny the next.
What is the secret to not being absorbed in circumstances? Be absorbed in Christ. The key, then, is not to desire little but to desire Christ.
3. Contentment Comes by Relying on the Lord’s Strength (v. 13)
The third secret to contentment in life is to rely on the Lord’s strength. Philippians 4:13 is one of the great verses in the Bible. In applying it, we must remember that it is not a promise to be able to bench press four hundred pounds, play in the NFL, or dunk a basketball. Rather, it means that we can serve Christ faithfully when we trust and rest in Him.
In thinking through these three principles of contentment, let us remember that Paul not only taught them to the Philippians but also he embodied them. May we do the same and apply these three principles to live a contented Christian life.