Philippians 012 – The Secret of ContentmentPhilippians 4:10-13 • Dr. Andy Woods • June 21, 2020 • Philippians
The Secret of Contentment
June 21, 2020
Dr. Andy Woods
All right. Well, good morning, everybody. Happy Father’s Day. Let’s take our Bibles, if we could, and open them to the book of Philippians. Chapter four. Taking a look this morning at verses ten through 13. I was going to title this message, “I can’t get no satisfaction”, but I resisted that temptation. The title of our message this morning is The Secret of Contentment. What is contentment and why is it so secretive? Why is it so hard to attain? And this study follows our verse by verse, teaching through the book of Philippians. Where the Apostle Paul is writing about contentment, not from a place of luxury at all, but from where? From prison. And he’s writing essentially to the Philippian church from Rome in prison, not completely clear on his own future and he’s talking to them about joy. So obviously, the joy that he is speaking of here has something completely different to do than external circumstances, which, for Paul, were not favorable. So the whole book is really a book about joy. It’s about how to have the internal peace of God in spite of changing and sometimes adverse circumstances. Chapter one, as we have studied, is about how God can use negative circumstances to bring about positive results. So this is the chapter where Paul set doesn’t say the glass is half empty, but the glass is half– What? Is half full. Paul was a flaming optimist, and I respect that because I’m not that way at all.
I can find the fault in anything. Paul, on the other hand, could see the hand of God in his negative circumstances. And he traces that for us in chapter one. Chapter two of the Book of Philippians is about the fact that you can’t walk in joy as a Christian with self on the throne. As long as our holy trinity consists of me, myself, and I. How do we walk in the joy of the Lord? We can’t, because the Bible says it’s better to give than to what receive. So we have to begin to walk as servants. Paul gives us four examples of servanthood in chapter two, starting, of course, with the ultimate role model of servanthood, Jesus Christ himself. And if there’s something chapter three that destroys joy in the life of the Christian, it’s legalism. It’s religion. It’s a bunch of do’s and don’ts. That’s what people think Christianity is rules. Rules without the Holy Spirit enabling. And so many, many people stay away from the church world because they think they’re going to get. Oh, I don’t know. An avalanche of rules dumped on their shoulders. Not understanding that when you give something up in God, He replaces it with something– What? Better. And he gives you the enablement to obey him. That part of the equation is never brought out in legalism. It’s don’t do this, don’t do that. And so that’s what Christianity is, while I will stay away from it. So Paul explains in chapter three why what he is preaching his Jesus Christ and a relationship with Jesus Christ is not legalism.
And in fact, he describes the change in his own life from being a legalist to being a Christian. And he does that in chapter three. And now we’re coming to the tail end of the book of Philippians chapter four, where we are learning that God never designed the Christian life to be lived on our own power. Someone has said the Christian life is impossible, difficult. I like to correct it by saying No, the Christian life is impossible. The Christian life is an impossible life if you’re trying to shoulder the load through your own strength. And what we learn in Chapter four is God has given us four resources, for daily life. These are four resources. In fact, let me correct that three resources. If you want me to find a fourth, we could probably do that. Three resources that God has given us for the nasty now and now. So Christianity is not about simply promises for the future. It’s about the grace of God that can be manifested in our daily lives today. These are your three resources by birthright. Number one, peace. Number two, contentment. And number three, provision. Peace. Last week. Contentment. This morning. Next week. Divine provision. In fact, next week, I’ll show you. You don’t even have to worry about money anymore. Did you know that? I mean, isn’t that the biggest fear in people about the stock market? Employment? Am I going to get hired again after COVID-19 is over? Well, you’ve got some promises in the Bible concerning that, which we’ll look at next week.
Last week we looked at peace. Prerequisites for peace. Presence of peace. Protection of peace. How do I experience the peace of God? Well, there are some prerequisites that have to be met. Once those are met, then all of a sudden I can receive the promise of verse seven, the presence of peace. Well, then, how do I keep peace once I have it? And it has to do with a disciplined thought life that Paul explained to us last week in verses eight and nine. So we’re moving away from peace this morning, and we’re moving now into our second provision that we have as God’s people. It’s something called contentment. Something that is lacking in the lives of most people. I would say it’s something that’s lacking in the lives of most Christians. I would say it’s something that the Lord is teaching me myself more and more about than any other single thing I can think of. Contentment. What is that all about? So here is our outline as we look at verses ten through 13 this morning, the subject of contentment. Number one, we’ve got Paul rejoicing. Number two, we’ve got Paul’s contentment. Number three, we’ve got Paul’s source, his rejoicing, verse ten, his contentment versus 11 and 12, and the source of that contentment, verse 13.
So here we go. Paul starts off by rejoicing. Notice what he says in verse ten. He says, But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last you have revived your concern for me; Indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked the opportunity. Notice how Paul starts here in verse ten? I rejoiced. That’s fitting, because that’s the point of the book. He says that all the way through the book in a more concentrated way in these four chapters than anywhere else, anywhere in the Bible. So that’s why we believe the theme of this book is The Joy of the Lord. What exactly is it? How is it attained? How is it kept? And you’ll notice what Paul says here. I rejoiced in the Lord. Now, a lot of people aren’t doing that today. They’re rejoicing in maybe COVID-19 is going to be over soon. Maybe the economy is going to come back. In other words, they’ve attached their joy to some temporary thing that could be taken away in a second. Paul attached his joy to the Lord. In fact, Paul here is contending that the only place you can find lasting joy is in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is Isaiah nine, verse six The Prince of Peace. How can a human being experience peace in any sense without Jesus Christ? It’s an impossibility. It can’t be found in power. It can’t be found in pleasure. It cannot be found in the bottom of a bottle.
It can’t be found in another human being. The only place that can be found in is Christ. Jesus, Paul says here. I rejoiced in the Lord greatly. What’s the word for? Greatly in Greek. It’s mega, as you might imagine. I mean, he’s not just rejoicing. This is like mega rejoicing. So he always walked in the joy of the Lord. But here he’s really rejoicing. Greatly rejoicing. Mega rejoicing. And why is that? Why is he rejoicing so greatly here? Because the Philippians had always had a concern for him. The concern never left. They were always concerned about Paul. He was their spiritual father. Paul had planted their church about 11 years earlier. He knew them personally and they never lost their love for Paul. They never lost their concern for Paul. But what changed with the Philippians is now some of them had resources to help Paul. I mean, the concern was always there, but the resources to help him were not always there. And now all of a sudden, some of them have resources and now they’re putting there, as we like to say, their money where their mouth is. And the concern that they’d always had for Paul is now being reflected through a financial offering. In fact, verse 14, which we’ll get to next week, it indicates more than one offering. Receiving an offering in the Greco-Roman world was if you received one, you were fortunate. And here’s a group of people that are getting behind Paul financially multiple times.
The concern was always there, but now their resources are matching their concern, which helps us understand something. And I really hate bringing up the issue of money from the pulpit. Partly, I hate bringing it up is because of how it’s abused by so many ministries. But I will bring up financial things when they’re found in our systematic working our way. Verse by verse through the Bible. By the way, we don’t have any great financial need here that I’m aware of. In fact, the elders are very overjoyed at how this church, both locally and online, has gotten behind us financially. So it’s a privilege to be able to stand up in front of people and just say thank you. So don’t take this as oh, my goodness, there’s some great need that has to be met. But it’s a simple truth of the Bible that there is a purpose behind prosperity. I mean, what exactly is prosperity? Prosperity? I would define it this way. It’s having more resources beyond your basic needs. In other words, your needs are met and you’ve got resources beyond your basic needs by the world’s standards. That makes a person prosperous or rich. I mean, you may not feel like you’re rich. You may not be as wealthy as your neighbor or the person next to you. But by world standards, American Christians are what we would call prosperous. So at some point, you have to ask yourself the question, why are these resources in my hands and not in the hands of somebody else? Well, there’s a reason for it.
Paul is explaining this here in verse ten. God put those resources in your hands so that you can be a blessing to others. In this case, the Philippians were being a blessing to the Lord and to Paul. The Book of James Chapter two verses 15 and 16 says If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food and one of you says to them, Go in peace, be warm and be filled and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body what use is that? First John, chapter three in verse 17 says Whoever has this world’s goods and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, How does the love of God abide in him? Paul, writing to the Corinthians, says this in second Corinthians chapter eight and verse 14. He says, At the present time, your abundance being a supply for their need. Now the other need would be the needs of the Macedonians who were having financial difficulties. At the present time, your abundance being a supply for their needs. So that abundance may also become a supply for your need, that there may be equality. Well, look at that Corinthians. There’s a reason why God has put resources into your hands. It’s to help the Macedonians. And then Paul says, You know what, one of these days your circumstances could be different.
Because as we’re going to see today, circumstances change. It might be the Macedonians with resources and the Corinthians with a financial need, and then God will use the Macedonians to be a blessing to you, just as he’s currently using you Corinthians to be a blessing to the Macedonians. And you start to put these scriptures together and you start to realize that there’s a purpose for prosperity. You see, your average American Christian does not think this way. Prosperity becomes an excuse to raise my standard of living. In fact, the reality of the situation is maybe God is saying keep your standard of living, maybe lower your standard of living so you can be a greater resource, a channel, a blessing to somebody else. Paul the Apostle talks about this in second Corinthians Chapter nine and verses six through 12, he says. Now this, I say, He who sews sparingly will reap sparingly. He who sews beautifully, will reap bountifully. Each one must do as he is purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion. For God loves a cheerful giver. God is able to make all grace abound to you so that you will always have sufficiency in everything. You may have an abundance for every good deed. Verse ten, second Corinthians nine. Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, will supply and multiply your seed. For sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.
Verse 11. You will be enriched in everything for all liberality. Four through us is producing Thanksgiving to God for the Ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but also overflowing through many Thanksgivings to God. Hey, there’s a reason why God put those extra resources in my lap. God wants to use me as a vehicle to bless somebody else. This is why Paul is rejoicing with the Philippians, because now it wasn’t just concern. Now they could do something practical. And their increase, they probably could have spent a number of different ways. But Paul says you’ve made a decision to spend that increase on me, your spiritual father, someone that is having difficult times. And because of your choices, I’m just beside myself, Paul says. I’m not just rejoicing, but I’m rejoicing greatly. Before the concern was there, but you didn’t have any opportunity. But now opportunity is equal with concern and you made the right decision. In fact, I, Paul says, To my knowledge, I don’t even remember sending out a fundraising letter. Now, does the Bible say that? No, that’s sort of my paraphrase of it. But your love for me was so obvious that when you went came into resources, you use them. Because now resources means opportunity and you follow through with the concern that you had for me already. So, Paul, when he writes to these, Philippians is just beside himself. He’s not just rejoicing.
He’s rejoicing greatly. And it’s here verses 11 and 12 that he begins to describe contentment because he talks about a time in his life before these resources came into him through the Philippians. He talks about how prior to that point in time I didn’t have enough, but now I do. But you know what? I was just as content then as I am now. Look at what he says here in verses 11 and 12. He says, Not that I speak from want, For I have learned to be content and whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means and I also know how to live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry. Both of having an abundance and suffering need. Paul says, you know, I’ve gone through the whole gamut here. I’ve gone through the whole spectrum. I know what it’s like to abound in very little. In humility, but I also know how to abound in much. I know how to exist with contentment unto God. Before there were resources in your hands, you Philippians to help me. And I know how to continue to have contentment now that you have used those resources to be a blessing to me. Notice the change that went on in Paul’s life. It talks about humble circumstances. Talks about prosperity. And one of the interesting things about the Bible, I think Bruce made reference to this a little earlier is that is the reality of living in this world is it’s the reality of change.
In fact, the only thing that will not change in your life is change itself. Change happens to all of us, whether we are looking for it or not. Whether we want it or not. I mean, as I’m speaking now, our very physical bodies are changing. Not necessarily for the better. I knew a person once. He says, You know, I’m just so tired of change. I want to find a town and I want to live there the rest of my life where there’s no such thing as change, where everything stays exactly the same. Well, lots of luck with that. Because that’s a recipe for never growing. I mean, if nothing changes, you never grow. And so Paul was abounding with little he was abounding with much. He’s essentially describing the seasons of life. Psalm chapter one around verse three talks about the seasons of life of a righteous man like a tree having seasons. I mean, that’s what life is like prior to the return of Jesus Christ. The reality of change. The constancy of change. I mean, change is going to happen. The only question is how we are going to adapt to it. A lot of people don’t adapt. And those are people that we say are living basically in the past. They’ve just made a mental decision to put roadblocks up and say, well, I want it the way it used to be and I won’t be happy until it’s like that and continues like that.
And those are people that short circuit their maturity. So Paul here is acknowledging change. And as he’s describing change, he’s describing three different contrasts. He knew how to abound with humble means. And then in prosperity, he knew how to be filled and also go hungry. He knew how to have abundance. But also to suffer need and does not a verse or a couple of verses like this put to rest this silly idea that is so dominant in so-called Christian media. And I put Christian here in quotation marks because it’s not Christian, it’s not biblical. This idea of the prosperity gospel. You know, the idea that you are the kid of a king, and so you are entitled by way of divine right. To a upward mobility, An ever increasing bank account. And prosperity as far as the eye can see. And supposedly, if you’re not experiencing those things according to the prosperity gospel, then you don’t have enough faith. I mean, what a silly idea. I mean, it’s interesting how just a little bit of Bible reading causes that idea to disappear. At least it should, because Paul never taught any such idea. Here he’s talking about, well, I was prospering and now humble and humble and now prospering. I was hungry, but now filled. Or filled and now hungry. I know what it’s like to have abundance and need and need and abundance.
He isn’t guaranteeing anybody anything. I mean, I guess if we had our way in those three sets of contrasts, we would just gravitate towards the abundance and the prosperity part of them and leave out the rest. But that’s not what the Bible says. Paul’s describing cycles that he went through. And what we’re going to see next week is God doesn’t just promise to. Well, he doesn’t promise at all to meet our greeds. Did you know that? What he does promise to meet is our needs. That you can count on. But this idea of greeds and more and keeping up with this person or that person. There is no such biblical doctrine. And I find it very interesting that prosperity teaching seems to end at the borders of the United States. Because when you travel into the Third World and do missionary work in the Third World, as I myself have done, what you really start to see is the true church of Jesus Christ. You start to see people with a level of spirituality that, quite frankly, we don’t have in the United States. And you see them living at what we would consider in the United States to be at a point of deprivation. And yet they love Jesus. And why don’t the financial blessings go their direction? Because God never guaranteed us prosperity. If you’re prospering, Praise the Lord for that. But that’s not a biblical guarantee. It’s not an ironclad doctrine.
In fact, Jesus himself spoke to one of the most spiritually founded churches you can find in the whole New Testament, the church at Smyrna. A church that he says nothing negative to. And he says in Revelation two, verse nine, I know your tribulation and your poverty, but you are rich. You have the riches of Christ, but financially your circumstances would be considered poor. I mean, why would he say that if worldly prosperity was some sort of guarantee of a Christian? What does he say to the Macedonians about the Macedonians as he holds them up as an example? In that great ordeal of affliction, their abundance of joy and their deep poverty. Overflowed in the wealth of liberality. For I testify according to their ability and beyond their ability they gave of their own accord. I couldn’t prevent these people from giving if I wanted to. Paul says they just kept giving and giving and giving to the point where you don’t have anything to give. And yet you’re still giving. I mean, how do you explain a verse like that? In light of the prosperity gospel. So Paul never taught ironclad prosperity for Christians. What he taught is the normal give and take the cycles of life, what we would call ups and downs. But he says, here’s what is guaranteed. Contentment. No matter what cycle of life you’re in. He says in verse 11, Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am in. Now this word content is the word autarkés. It’s a hapax legomena, which is a fancy word for saying it’s only used here in the Greek text. Here and here alone. And what does it mean? What does that word content even mean? It means pertaining to being happy or content with what one has. Content with circumstances in which one exists. I mean, I don’t even think it’s saying you can’t have the desire to move on in life, to move up, to move ahead. But here’s the issue, beloved: If you’ve never learned to be content in humble circumstances, guess what? You’re not going to be content in wealthy circumstances either. And so he’s revealing here, I believe, one of the great resources that a Christian has, like the peace of God, which can be tapped into at any moment, which is this concept of satisfaction. Here’s a little saying I’ve heard before. I don’t know where I heard it from, but it sure works with me. Happy is the man who wants what he has. I mean, our problem is we’re always wondering what we don’t have. And that’s not biblical contentment. Contentment is actually wanting what is actually yours, being content in whatever circumstances that we find ourselves. Now, look at this very carefully. Paul says, I have learned this. The verb they’re learned is manthanó. It means to learn, to grow, to understand Jesus used that word. When he said, but go and learn what this means. I desire compassion and not sacrifice. You have to learn something. Now, if I have to learn I had to learn geometry to get out of high school. I had to learn algebra. I had to learn calculus. Well, wait a minute. If I had to learn it, that means that those subjects weren’t coming to me naturally. I mean, I used to go to bed at night with my head on my geometry book, you know, hoping it would bleed over into my head. But the reality is, I had to go through a certain amount of labour to learn those subjects. That basically is what contentment is. Contentment is not something that will ever come to you naturally. In fact, contentment is hostile or foreign to our in nature. We are not content by matter of human nature. Our basic impulse is a lack of contentment. And yet Paul is saying here I had to learn contentment. And as you go down to verse 12, he says, I learned the secret of contentment. Now that’s an interesting verb. Also the verb for learned the secret. Is–let’s see if I’m pronouncing this right: memyēmai. It means to learn the secret of something through personal experience or as the result of initiation. In other words, you don’t learn the secret until you’re initiated, meaning that unless you’re initiated, you don’t learn the secret. Meaning that learning a secret reveals that contentment is not something that’s instinctive.
It’s not something that’s natural. It’s something that God has to teach you. But oh, my goodness, Once I learn the secret of contentment, watch the joy in my Christian life go right off the charts. Because suddenly I’m not a prisoner of my circumstances anymore. Because God says, I’ve given you something in your heart that you can walk with independent of circumstances which we saw earlier can fluctuate dramatically and fluctuate wildly. And this is why so many of us are unhappy as Christians. Known the Lord for years, but always in turmoil because we’ve never really learned the secret. We’re always adjusting our emotions based on what we perceive to be the favorability or the unfavorability of our circumstances. This contentment is totally unnatural to us because it’s a secret that can come only from God. Gee, I really don’t. You know, what would it be like if I was married to somebody else? Well, that would make two women unhappy, I guess, in my case. Gee, I wonder, what would it be like if I had a different career? Or, you know, what would it be like if I didn’t live in my house but I lived in the nicer house? What I perceive as a nicer house down the street. Gee, you know what? If I wasn’t the pastor of Sugar land Bible Church, but I had another church. Now the pastor down the street, he’s got more people.
It’s got a bigger flock, bigger following. Gosh. My mind goes that direction. What would it be like if I had his church instead of my church? When God is saying instead of worrying about what you don’t have, why don’t you learn to be content where I have put you? Why don’t you learn to be content with where I’ve placed you? Well, you know, I appreciate the spiritual gift you’ve given me, Lord, as pastor-teacher. But, you know, really, I’ve always wanted to be Billy Graham, to be honest with you. And the Lord says, Well, I never I if I made you a Billy Graham, I’d have to Billy Graham’s and one is enough. So I made you different than Billy Graham. So instead of worrying about the fact that you’re not Billy Graham, why don’t you try to be content with who I give what I’ve given you? What I’ve made you into. So we play this game all the time if we’re honest with ourselves. And that’s why we don’t have the joy of the Lord. Because we’ve really never lived with or dialed into what Paul is talking about here. I’ve learned the secret of contentment. In fact, there was a study released years ago that I found so interesting. It simply asks the question, How much more money do you want before you’re happy? I mean, how much more money do you really need or want before you’re really satisfied? And they ask this question to people in poverty of people in.
The lower middle class. The middle class, the upper middle class, and what we would call the super-rich. Same question, everybody. And what was the response? You know what everybody said, no matter what place on the economic ladder they found themselves. Everybody said, if I could get 10 to 15% more, I’ll be happy. I mean, the very poor said that the lower middle class said that the middle class said that. The upper middle class said that and the super-rich said that. Gee, I’m tired. Tired of water skiing behind one boat. Maybe if I had two boats to water ski behind, then I’d be happy. And it reveals an emptiness of the human heart. This is part of our fallen condition. We’re just not content, no matter what happens to us. You look at the nation of Israel. If you want a profile of a lack of contentment, look at the nation of Israel in Egypt and coming out of Egypt. Exodus one verses 13 and 14. It says the Egyptians compelled the Sons of Israel to labor rigorously. And they made their lives bitter with hard labor in mortar and bricks and all kinds of labor in the field and all their labor which they rigorously imposed on them. Exodus 2:24. So God heard the groaning and remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God saw the Sons of Israel and God took notice of them. God, we’re tired of being slaves.
We’re tired of laboring rigorously. We’re tired of being under the lash of the taskmaster. And they were under that circumstance for 400 years. I mean, what is everybody talking about today? Reparations, slavery, all these issues. What about the Jews? 400 years under the Egyptians? 400 years is basically the length of the United States of America roughly doubled. That’s a long time. And so God took them out of slavery. And as you know, they came out of Goshen and they pass through the Red Sea and they made their way to Mount Sinai. And it wasn’t long until we get to Exodus 14, verse 12, and they said, Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt saying leave us alone, that we might serve the Egyptians? For It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die out here in the wilderness. Numbers 11 verse five We remember the fish we used to eat, free in Egypt. The cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, the garlic. Now, you don’t remember the taskmaster whip very much, but you remember three hots and a cot, right, for prisoners. I mean, we’re unhappy here and then God gets him out and then they say, Well, we want to go back. I mean, no matter what God did with these people, they complained and they grumbled against him. That is a microcosm of our hearts. That’s what we’re all like in original sin. So. And by the way, social media destroys contentment.
You know why? Because everybody’s posting how they look in terms of goodness. And their successes and the new houses they’re buying and the new suit I’m in, I mean, no one puts up, you know, how they really feel. Everybody is always putting up, you know, their best. And we look at all of our friends that we graduated from with their best and their families and their houses. And we say, Well, I want what they have. I mean, the reality of the situation is the more time you spend staring at this stupid phone, the more you’re going to struggle with contentment. I mean, put this thing away– see even God agrees with me there. Happy is the man who wants what he has. Paul the apostle was in prison and he’s talking about contentment. Do you remember chapter one where there were a bunch of people that were trying to eclipse Paul’s popularity because he was in prison and to build their own ministries? And they were getting more YouTube subscriptions than Paul and more Facebook likes than Paul. And what does Paul say? Ahh, forget it. Let him get popular, because the gospel is going out. I mean, there’s a man that learned the secret of contentment. I mean, no matter what circumstances he was in, no matter how people were trying to profit off his demise. He just let it go. I think this is what he’s dealing with here.
When he’s talking about the secret of contentment. And as I said before, if you don’t learn it now, it doesn’t matter what God does with you. You’ll still not be content. I wish I brought him in. I’ve got some quotes of some of the richest men in the world. In fact, I remember watching a television interview with Howard Hughes. And Howard Hughes had four goals. He accomplished three of the four. He wanted to be the world’s greatest aviator, the world’s greatest movie producer, The world’s richest man, and there’s a fourth one he had that I can’t remember. Aviator, movie producer, world’s richest man. Oh, the world’s greatest golfer. Four goals. I mean, those are pretty. I mean, when you set out your goals, do you set out goals like that? I mean, these are like earthshaking things. Do you realize that Howard Hughes achieved three of the four? You can go back to specific times in his life and you could say, well, he did achieve number one. He did achieve number two, he did achieve number three. The only one he never achieved was he never became the world’s greatest golfer. But the other ones he achieved. Now you look at someone like that and you say, well, certainly a person like that would be content. And towards the end of his life, if you study the life of Howard Hughes, The man deteriorated in every category imaginable. In fact, I remember as a very young person seeing this interview with him and the newspaper person or the person behind the camera asking him the question, said, Howard, are you happy?
Now, I was all ears because I wanted to hear what he had to say. He said, no, you can look it up online yourself. Watch it. Now, I can’t say I’m happy. This is an ailment of the heart that’s so deep that it’s something only God can fix. It’s something that your average Christian, particularly here in the United States, hasn’t even begun to tap into. And yet we ask, well, how did Paul do it? How did he learn the secret of contentment? I’m glad you asked, because we conclude with verse 13 where we see Paul’s source. Look at this, he tells you. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Notice this through him. Through him. In other words, if you don’t know Jesus, you can’t even begin to tap into this. But once you know Jesus, what does he do? He strengthens you for all things. Now, if you have to be strengthened to achieve this, it’s not something that can be conjured up through the flesh. No amount of attending self-empowerment classes can fix this. No amount of religion can fix this. No amount of the flesh trying harder can fix this. This is something that comes only from God. Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. Paul didn’t even talk about himself here.
He says it’s through Christ, That I’ve learned the secret. This word strengthened. It’s interesting. It’s endunamoó. It’s the same verb he uses when he talks to Timothy in second Timothy two verse one, You, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in the Lord Jesus Christ. By the way, as you probably know, Timothy was trying to pastor a church as a sickly young man. And Paul says to Timothy, rely on the strength of God for this. That’s where Paul’s contentment comes from. Same verb. Second Timothy four, verse 17, Paul says. But the Lord stood with me and strengthen me so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished and all the Gentiles might hear. And I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth. Wow. All the Gentiles heard, Paul through you, and you were snatched out of the lion’s mouth? How did that happen? It was the Lord that strengthened me. Same verb there. Endunamoó. I mean, if you’re trying to– Legalism is never going to tell you the side of the story. What legalism is going to do is point out your failures and try to get you to try harder which just leads to more futility. What the Bible is telling you is that these resources, whether it be the peace of God, the provision of God, the contentment of God, are at your fingertips. They’re unnatural. You have to learn the secret, but it is only through Christ. And consequently, Paul says, I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Now you watch the Olympics, or you watch somebody that’s a Christian who’s successful on the athletic field. They scored the winning touchdown and the camera kind of rolls over to them after they say, Hi, mom. Though quote this verse I can do all things through him who strengthens me. And so people think this verse is like, okay, I can go out and walk on water, I can go out and score the winning touchdown. And that’s not what the verse is talking about. What it’s talking about is contentment is the issue. That’s what God will enable you to do. That’s what God will allow you to experience is internal satisfaction. Happy as the man who wants what. He has something that simple can be accomplished through Jesus Christ. But here’s what’s interesting. If you can get that one down, scoring the winning touchdown is easy because this is a lot harder. If you can get that one down, something that is foreign to our nature, which is always in a state of restlessness and discontent. I mean, if God can do that and fix that issue and fix that problem, then what else could he do? Katy bar the door, right? The sky’s the limit. And I think that’s why Paul says that here. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. So it becomes really a stunning few verses. In fact, I was tempted to move on to other verses, but I didn’t want to do that.
I just wanted to let this sit, soak, settle because it’s a unit of thought in and of itself. That you could literally spend the rest of your life studying as a believer. Verses ten through 13 The Secret of Contentment. Paul rejoices verse ten. He talks about this amazing internal satisfaction that he had in spite of changing circumstances, verses 11 and 12. And then he talks about his source, verse 13, and by the way, he talks about it from a prison with his own future up in the air. And he’s role modeling here for these Philippians completing their walk in Christ. How they can not only walk in the peace of God that transcends all understanding, but they can walk in contentment, being happy, wanting what you have. I had a youth pastor that put it this way God does not necessarily give us everything we want. But you know what God is really good at? He’s really good at controlling our wanter. I mean, if God wants me to be happy with what I have and I’m always looking at what I don’t have, then we say, Well, Lord, change my heart. I’ll be frank with you. This week I had to say that a number of times as I was trying to prepare to teach this because I think personally that of all of the things in the Christian life that I personally am least qualified to talk about, it’s this.
But you’re going to have to– you’re going to have to change my wanter. Because I really don’t have this. But if God is your source, He can give it to you. Amen? Let me close with this quote here from Augustine of Hippo in his confessions. And I hope the Lord forgives me for quoting Augustine there. He says, Thou hast made us for thyself, Oh, Lord and our heart is restless until it finds rest in Thee. You know, you could be here today and not even know Christ personally. And the wonderful thing about Jesus is he can come and start fixing you from the inside. He may not change every circumstance in your life. Maybe he will. I don’t know. But I know what he’s an expert in, which is fixing us from the inside out. That’s what Philippians four is. Peace of God. Contentment. And receiving the resources of God. Paul’s source is as simple as believing the gospel, because once you believe the gospel, which means to trust in the message and the person of the gospel, Jesus actually lives inside of us. Did you know that? He’ll take up residence inside of us and our circumstances in our life may never change. They may get worse. Maybe they’ll get better. But so I can’t guarantee what’s going to happen on the outside. I can guarantee you this, though, not only from the Bible, but from my personal walk, that he is really good at fixing me internally when I let him.
And the first step in that is a relationship with the God that made you through the person of Jesus Christ. So our exhortation in all of this is Jesus stepped out of eternity in the time to pay a price that we could never pay for ourselves. He died for our sins, and through his death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, he has bridged the gap between fallen humanity and a Holy God. The whole thing is there by way of faith, as a gift. And if we trust in it, not only is that gap problem resolved. Were made right with God in a nanosecond. But he actually takes up residence in my heart and in my soul. And as I walk out the life of discipleship, I find that I can begin to experience these internal resources. So our exhortation to anybody here that’s unsaved is to get saved by believing the gospel. If it’s something you need more explanation on, I’m available after the service to talk.
Shall we pray. Father, we’re grateful for what you have provided, what you have given. I just feel like so many times were poverty stricken, walking around as paupers, not fully grasping or accessing our wealth. And you’ve given us incredible wealth here in Philippians four. Not only through internal peace, but contentment. Help us to walk in these things this week as your people will be careful to give you all the. His name and God’s people said.