The following is from a message I preached at a local church in 2008, right after the financial crash. Somehow, these words seem appropriate to me in 2018. I believe now is a wonderful time to recapture one of the greatest blessings Christ has given His people: the supernatural ability to be CONTENT.
From a prison cell, the apostle Paul wrote:
Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. 5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. 10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. 14 Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction. 15 Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. 16 For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. 17 Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. 18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. 19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. 20 Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Philippians 4:4-20)
When we are thinking clearly and biblically, most of us realize that there is something in our Kingdom experience that often seems missing. Where are the true and biblical serenity and rest Christ promised us? (Matt 11:28) Despite our hollering, shouting, dancing, naming and claiming, declaring, goal-setting, and achieving, MANY of us remain agitated, weary, negative, “dis-eased,” down-trodden, disgruntled, and discontent.
Could it be that our relentless pursuit of “a better life” (normally defined by earthly prosperity) causes more frustration than it cures? Why? Because once you are “there” it still doesn’t satisfy. Despite the tons of books, music, and seminars designed to help the Christian feel more fulfilled, we still are clamoring for more.
And this was all fine and dandy until….the bottom fell out. Why is it that we tend to seek the blessings of contentment only when times are bad? Do you think we have allowed our success-driven cultural principles to intrude upon the Gospel? I submit that Contentment is part of our spiritual heritage as Christians, and is essential to grow and develop in the things the Lord cares about. Remember that this letter was likely written from a Roman prison. Throughout this “prison epistle,” Paul demonstrates supernatural contentment by encouraging free people to rejoice!
How do we recapture Contentment? Here are some thoughts:
- By embracing that being a friend of God is enough. “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Heb 13:5)
- By realizing that contentment is rooted in character rather than circumstances. “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Tim 6:6)
- By quieting the noise of the world. (1 John 2:15-17) The world markets lust, selfishness, and pride. If you view God or approach God wanting your own way (your will not His), praying for yourself all the time, or wanting self-exaltation, contentment will remain elusive.
The Benefits of Contentment from Philippians 4:
- With Contentment, you are able to rejoice, despite circumstances. (v4)
- With Contentment, you can be gentle to others, even when you are mistreated. (v5)
- With Contentment, your perspective shifts to the eternal. (v5)
- With Contentment, you are better able to defeat worry and anxiety. (v6) You see faith differently. Expectation is balanced with Sovereignty, which is more biblical than making demands on God.
- With Contentment, your prayer life and changes. (v6) You are able to petition God with thanksgiving regardless of how the prayer is answered. Remember that even with His promises, God doesn’t always give us time markers. So regardless of your faith level, waiting is much easier and more joyful with Contentment.
- With Contentment, you become more centered and peaceful. (v7) Blessings come with the very presentations of petitions before the results! This in itself (says the man in prison) produces the peace!
- With Contentment, your thought life shifts. (v8) You become less frantic and focused on problems, and instead, you embrace things that are true, honest, pure, and lovely.
- With Contentment, you can have peace in hard economic times. (v10-12)
- With Contentment, you can walk in the strength of God despite what is going on around you. (v13)
- With Contentment, joyful, abundant, consistent, giving is released into the Kingdom of God. (v14-19) A discontent person will find it hard to give because a discontent person is focused on receiving. A discontent person assumes a spiritual posture of holding. A content person has a spirit of releasing.
May our LORD grant us great contentment in 2018!