Content In All Circumstances
January 13, 2019
The Apostle Paul was able to rejoice in all circumstances (Phil 4:4) because he had learned the secret of being content in all circumstances. In this sermon we learn more about how we can, like Paul, be content.
Main Point: The Lord is my provision and the source of strength; He is all that I need.
I. Contentment is not dependent on your circumstances (verses 11-12)
- The source of Paul’s contentment didn’t change. His circumstances changed all the time. But Jesus doesn’t change. His love doesn’t change! His promises don’t change! His purposes for us don’t change!
- Paul knew that, and laid the basis of his contentment not on the shifting shadows of his life circumstances, but in God Himself.
What Contentment Is Not
- Contentment is not lowering our expectations. Contentment is not putting your expectations so low that you’ll never be affected negatively.
- Contentment is not about personality type. Some personalities can tend to be more even keeled and not have the spikes of highs or lows that others may be inclined to have. True contentment is not personality based.
- Contentment is not just having a stiff upper lip….Just be strong, don’t talk about it, just deal with it on your own. That’s not true contentment.
What Contentment Is
- Our contentment is found in Christ, not on our circumstances
- One thing that we do so often is bind our contentment to physical circumstances.
- Take this simple test:
- I would be a totally content person if ___________________
- I would be a totally content person if not for ___________________
- Do you see how easy it is for us to tie things or circumstances to our contentment? Paul didn’t do that because he knew that true, lasting, spiritual contentment is not determined by our circumstances. Rather, if each of us could accept our circumstances as from God, and therefore trust that He knows what He’s doing, we would be content.
- We will be content to the degree that we trust God in each and every circumstance.
II. Contentment Is Learned (verses 11-12)
- The good news is that contentment is learned!
- The Apostle Paul himself had to learn contentment (see verses 11 and 12).
Contentment is learned by embracing each season that the Lord brings
…seasons of abundance and seasons of need.
- Embracing each season like that requires something of us — that we believe the Lord is behind it all.
Question 2 – What is God?
God is the creator and sustainer of everyone and everything. He is eternal, infinite, and unchangeable in his power and perfection, goodness and glory, wisdom, justice and truth. Nothing happens except through Him and by His will – New City Catechism
- Through faith we learn to embrace, from God’s hand, the seasons that He brings us into. This is hard at times, really hard. There is mystery here too.
- What I’ve learned is that I can’t stay on the question WHY? God is God, and He’s not obligated to answer that question just because I may ask it. And the witness of the scripture is that He is good, even when we don’t understand so I can let the question WHY go, even though I might want an answer.
- Season of Abundance: The temptation with a season of abundance is to think that our joy is found in our abundance. This can often lead to self-sufficiency. Self-sufficiency is a lack of trust in the Lord, and trusting in our own ability to provide. Contentment isn’t found in the abundance of possessions!
- Season of Need: “I know how to be brought low, and how to abound…I faced plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” Suffering loosens our grip on the things of this world, temporary things. When suffering is happening, we see clearly. Suffering has a way of wiping clear our glasses and enabling us to see clearly – that its Christ and His promises that will carry us through.
- Illustration: Charles Spurgeon, his suffering and how he learned contentment.
Contentment is learned as we single-heartedly pursue Christ
“If anyone else has thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews, as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church, as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I might gain Christ.”
— Philippians 3:4-8
- The key to true contentment is not in education, or gifting, or possessions, or family tree, or accomplishments. Instead, the key to joy and contentment is gaining Christ, is knowing Christ, is making full room for Christ, enjoying Christ.
- When we have Him, we need no more.
“The enjoyment of God is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied.” — Jonathan Edwards
Illustration: How Jonathan Edwards modeled joy and satisfaction in Christ.
III. Contentment produces faith for the future (verse 13)
- Paul had learned contentment because he learned to trust his Lord. The future doesn’t look bleak when you have Christ. If you can trust and rely on Him as the source of your comfort and hope, then the future, whatever it may be, is not daunting, because you know He will be with you.
- If our contentment were based in ourselves – in our abilities to make things happen, to “get things done”, we would have no hope for tomorrow. But true contentment is rooted not in us, but in the Lord.
- When our contentment is rooted in the Lord, we know that He can accomplish anything He desires, in us
- Therefore, it’s the person who is content in the Lord who can say
- I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
- Who is the source of strength for the contented person?
- The Lord
- What does the contented person know?
- That outside of the Lord’s strength, they cannot do all things!
- Spiritual contentment is not related to your circumstances.
- It is learned as we embrace from God’s hand each season we’re in.
- It is learned as we wholeheartedly pursue Christ.
- Such contentment produces faith for the future.
Questions For Discussion / Application:
- Re-read the text, Philippians 4:10-13.
- What initial observations and insights do you have from reading this text?
- At times, we can think “If this particular circumstance changes in the way I desire it to change, then I will be content.” What circumstance or circumstances in your own life can you at times be tempted to think that way about?
- What is wrong with the logic that says ” If my situation changes, then I will be content”?
- How can suffering be a means that God uses to produce true contentment in our lives?
- How have you seen God use suffering to produce more contentment in your own life?
- Jeremy said, “The key to true contentment is not in education, or gifting, or possessions, or family tree, or accomplishments. Instead, the key to joy and contentment is gaining Christ, is knowing Christ, is making full room for Christ, enjoying Christ (see Phil 3:4-8).” In the coming year, practically what is one thing you would like to do to pursue Christ more purposefully and intentionally?