Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 7 years ago

The Secret to Contentment


Rev. Christopher Chelpka

I if you're able, please remain standing and let's hear God's word. Now from Philippians, says Philippians, Chapter Four, verses ten through thirteen. Philippians four ten through thirteen. I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now, at length, you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned, in whatever situation I am, to be content. I know how to be brought low and I know how to abound in any and every circumstance. I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Amen. You may be seated. Well, these verses Philippians four ten through thirteen, Paul begins to close his letter to the Philippians, this letter that he's been writing from prison, from a place of persecution and difficulty, I'm he finishes his letter by speaking about his needs and the way that the Philippians have a revived their concern for him and the various ways in which they've responded to that need. He begins talking about that situation. In verse ten, which we read, he says, I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now, at length, you have revived your concern for me. He picks that up then again in verse fourteen and talks about the the troubles that they have shared together. He talks about the concern that they have had, he talks about the how he feels about it on how they are to think about it, how God sees it, and will consider these things, but we're going to consider them next time because before Paul moves fully into a discussion of this relationship that he has with the Philippians and this particular context of his need, he pauses in Verse Eleven, Twelve and thirteen, which we read. He pauses in these verses to make a comment about his needs. He takes a couple of verses to Orient Their thinking, and are thinking as well about needing things, about having needs and, in particular, what it means to be content in them. So I'm we will take a moment to pause here and think about these needs generally, just needs. We all have needs. Paul had them, the Philippians have them, we have them, food, sleep, money, clothing, shelter, spiritual needs, as well justification, acceptance, community, peace and our souls, and there's all kinds of very good things we can say that we need. There's, of course, things we say we need that we shouldn't even want. But even just thinking of those things that Rifley are needed, and Paul speaks in a very particular way about them, and orients are thinking in a very particular way and we want to consider what God has to say in this place, in another passages, about how we think about them, about how we think about our needs. So the first thing we will say this evening is that contentment is the chief way that we hold our needs. Contentment is the chief way that we hold our needs. Notice what Paul says in Verse Eleven. He says not that I'm speaking of being in need, for I have learned, in...

...whatever situation I am, to be content. It's interesting what he does here. He cut connects contentment so closely to his needs that in a certain way contentment even overshadows his need. It even sort of erases it. He said as not that I have needs, not that I'm speaking of being in need. Why? Because in whatever situation I am in, content, I'm content. There's all kinds of examples. You might think of what that feels like, but you know it when your content, when you're content the things that you might normally want and desire, sometimes even voraciously. You say, well, I'm fine, I'm good, don't really have any needs. There's a way in which contentment is so connected, I'm tour his needs, that contentment overshadows them in a sense, or even a races them. This is significant because, as I mentioned a moment ago, Paul is one who certainly has needs and expresses them in various ways. Paul is persecuted, he's in prison, he faces loneliness and other difficulties, and yet he says not that I'm speaking of being in need. So the first thing we might learn here is that when we hold our needs in the cup of contentment, we find ourselves in our needs, very happy, very satisfied. The opposite is also true. When contentment is absent in connection to our needs, a much harm is done. William Perkins, one of the English puritans connect compares this to a see. See that spills over its banks and floods the land can destroy and do a lot of harm. Likewise, when our needs and desires remain uncontrolled by contentment, those needs, those desires, those affections become uncontrolled and even destructive to ourselves and to other people. A French reformer from the seventeen century said ignorance of this secret is the cause of the greater part of our miseries. Wars happen because, often because leaders and countries and kings are discontent with what they have. Same for thieves and robbers. Families, businesses, churches are often destroyed by this very thing. Lacking contentment in what they have, wanting something that someone else has, either a thing or a position, a place. Remember the great peace that was in Israel until Absalom decided that he wanted his father's throne. or think of a Nay boss vineyard being taken from him because of a king deciding that he wanted something for himself, or of wanting things that are unholy. It's even worse Israel wanting the worship of Baal and other gods. When we allow our needs, even good needs, to become uncontrollable, when we disconnect, when we disconnect contentment from our needs, we become more like beasts than like men. Here we learn in this passage that we are not to let our needs and desires control us, but through contentment we are to control them. Listen to passages like first Timothy one eight. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be satisfied. That's a pretty short list, isn't it? Or Hebrews Thirteen five, keep your life free from the love of money and be content with what you have. So the so contentment, we might say, is the Christian way... carry our needs. And so I'll ask, how are you doing with that when it comes to food and clothing and sleep? When it comes to spiritual needs, maybe your level of sanctification, Yourr level of assurance from the father. How often do you find yourselves dreaming about things that you don't have or saying, if I only had x, everything would be okay? If you know yourself as one who acts in these UNCHRISTIAN or, as I said earlier, even beastly ways, then you see yourself rightly and you're not selfdeceived. Ever since Adam and Eve first decided that what they want, that what they wanted was what they didn't have, that they could take what they had not been given, even something that had been forbidden them, we have all struggled against these sins. Apostle Paul speaks about them in relation to himself as well, in another place, and as one who struggles along with you with contentment. What to point you to the scriptures. I'm continuing looking at Philippians four, ten through thirteen and show you some of the things that we often miss when we think about contentment and some reasons that contentment often goes wrong. There are certain errors that we make in are thinking about contentment. I'm very serious, and fundamental errors I'll tend I'll mention for the first is that contentment is magical. Sometimes we think of contentment like having perfect pitch. It's something you have or something you don't. But that's not what Paul says about contentment. What does he say? He says I have learned. I have learned, in whatever situation, to be content. I know how he says. Contentment, then, is, we might say, is comparable in a sense to a certain skill. This could be said of godliness in general. There's a certain skill in Godliness, principles that must be learned and applied in all of their various ways, and they apply differently and difficult in different circumstances. He knows how to be brought low and how to abound. We are called, therefore, not to wait for a magical spell of contentment to fall down upon us, but we are to make contentment our study. Are Serious study. Do you have needs all the time, then you must learn to be content all the time. It is something to grow in and learn. The second error we make is that contentment, we think that contentment is only found in things that are good. Notice what Paul doesn't say. Paul doesn't say, Oh, Lord, satisfy my needs so that I can be content. He says he has learned to be content in all situations. Contentment, satisfaction doesn't just happen when we're full, either in our stomachs or our bank accounts or in our the the love of our spouse or any other thing you might mention, and it happens in plenty and in want. He has learned to be content in all situations, not just the ones we typically label is good. Contentment, therefore, is not only, I should say, contentment is not magical, as I mentioned already, but it's also not dependent on our circumstances. We don't wait around for this and that thing to change before we can be content. We don't wait around for a particular thing to happen on...

...our lives before we can finally say, okay, now I can be content and satisfied with what God has done in my life. So contentment is not magical. Contentment is not only found when things are good, or, to put it another way, contentment is not dependent on your circumstances. The third error we make is we think that contentment is not a challenge when things are good. This is, of course, related to the thing I just mentioned. On the one hand, we think that contentment is only found in things are good, and then we make the second, or a double error in thinking that contentment is no problem when things are good. Not only is it not automatic when we're rich and healthy and well supplied, but these very things, wealth and health, pose a special and particular challenge to contentment. The examples I've given earlier of Ahab and Absalom Ring True. These were men who had a lot. We're well supplied and had many good things and yet could not be content. We can add a third A to this list. Americans, you'd think if goodness and supply were the things that brought about contentment, we would be the happiest people in all the world. We have such easy access to food and clean water pouring continually out of our houses, even when the longest of drafts are going on. We have such a variety and food and clothing and even beyond that, education opportunities for both men and women, not only informal institutions, but a countless number of books, not just education but entertainment as well. Almost anything we can imagine we have. And yet are we content? Have we finally reached this place where we can say we have enough? Of course not. We just clamor and clamor for more and more and more and more. Both poverty and riches come with their own special challenges. Proverbs thirty eight or dresses this directly. We read there, give me neither poverty nor nor riches. Free Feed me with food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say who is Jehovah, or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of God. The fact of the matter is most of us will find ourselves in one situation or another. We will find ourselves in plenty or in want. Even as the Apostle Paul found himself in. But this proverb expresses a kind of frame of mind and an attitude. It's reminding us that there are dangers on both sides of this. Do you ever consider that when you're simple it, when you're always wishing for that next good thing to happen so that you can be content? Do you ever think, does the thought ever cross your mind that perhaps there is danger even when the next good thing comes, when the bonus happens or you get some new promotion? Is there not something to be at least slightly concerned about when we consider the warnings of proverbs and other scriptures? So these are things to correct our thinking. Contentment is not magical, contentment... not dependent on our circumstances. Contentment is not only a challenge in poverty, but also, and maybe even especially, in wealth. The last error I'll mention is that we think this. We think that contentment is achievable apart from God, as he gives himself to us in Christ and of all the errors that I've mentioned so far, this one is most certainly the chief one, because we know from even our pagan neighbors, are unbelieving neighbors, that they have a certain sense in them of these commandments, a certain sense that contentment is something that should be aspired to and and achieved. People know that they shouldn't be greedy covet other people's things and be happy with what they have, and even the most mature of the unbelievers will strive towards this, will strive towards letting go, not being caught up and bound in materialism, finding contentment and knowing the great value in it. But the mistake there is not necessarily in pursuing it, but in thinking that it's possible to attain it apart from God, as he gives himself to US in Christ. To put it positively true, contentment is only possible when we know that our needs are secure in the grace of Christ. Consider this question. How can any person be truly content when they're ultimately dissatisfied with the God who gives all things? How can you be content with any amount of food or clothing or or station in life when you are ultimately upset and dissatisfied with the one who brings all those things, this one who gives us all good things in this life, who knows that we are dust and cares for us in His grace, and not only believers but unbelievers as well. We're told that the rain falls on the just and the unjust. We see God's provision for mankind all over the face of the earth, whether they belong to his church or not. God's goodness displayed in so many ways, countless numbers of ways. And yet if a person is ultimately dissatisfied and unhappy or, more truly to the point, at war with the one who supplies their needs, will there be contentment? And that when people search for contentment apart from God, what will they find? Just dry wells in themselves and in other places they'll find these little pools of water where they might get a little self help from a motivational book or find a teaching that helps them to let go of a few more things in their life, but ultimately it will run dot dry over and over again. Why? Because these things are temporal and fading. There are external needs that will always be pressing, another bill to pay, another thing to do, another tempting gadget to try and enjoy, and internally we will always respond to these things. The old, the sinful flesh, will always fear lacking, will fear our lives, fear not having food lest we die and fall under the curse of God. Inside we will always struggle with covetousness, will know the weakness of our flesh, the turmoil and that we have inside. Without peace with God, we're still. When you're at war with the one who supplies...

...everything, you will not only know his goodness, but also his wrath, as he who withholds things from your life or, as the case may be, give you over to the things that you desire so dearly, wrath in this life and wrath in the life to come. But when we come to God, as he freely gives himself to us in Christ, our position with him changes in such a dramatic way that contentment actually becomes possible, because it's something that becomes, it's something that is given to us, rather than something that we finally achieve. Even contentment itself. Consider it when we come to God, a God who has blessed us with, as we read in Ephesians, every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, when we come to a God who has said I will care for your body and soul from now and for all eternity, and death itself will not be able to stop my provision for you that you, in your place in Christ, will come to the resurrection of life. Who needs to worry about food? Who needs to worry about the possibility of dying, when you have been promised no death, when you've been promised each eternal life in the one who died for you and was risen for you, or, to put it another way, in the one in whom you died and were risen with. God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing, but also every physical blessing. That's hard to see sometimes in this life when we say I'm hungry and I don't have enough money, but God does provide for these things, in temporal ways, but ultimately in spiritual ones as well. He couples are physical and temporal needs to ultimately to spiritual ones as well, and he, we works with them both to provide for us. And in this together we find that we can truly rest in God because we have everything we could ever need in him. We have no need for the justification of men because we are justified in Christ. We have no need to strive after some kind of approximate morality when we've been given justification and promise that God will sanctify us and even one day glorify us. We have no need to cobble together various communities so that we can finally find rest with fellow men, because God has given us the church. He gives us peace and joy and love. He gives us our daily bread and calls us even to pray for it. Beloved your God's Kids, God's kids, his children, whom he cares for and loves, whom he's bought and paid for with a price, signed your birth certificate with his own blood. No wonder Paul says that he can find contentment or in verse thirteen. I can do all things through him, who strengthens me because he is resting in Christ. Earlier I read you Hebrews Thirteen Five. I said, quoted from the scripture, keep your life free from the love of money and be content with what you have.

This verse continues, for he has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you. There's the promise, there's the promise that we rely on that brings about the contentment, that in which we carry our needs. Jesus says a similar things in Matthew A, chapter six and seven. Chap Matthew Chapter six and seven. I'll read them to you. In Matthew Chapter six, there's an extended passage here, Jesus says. Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is Life not more than food and the body more than clothing? Then he gives an example, he gives an illustration to drive home this point. I hope you're familiar with it and think about it often. He says, look at the birds of the air. They neither sow nor reap nor gather into their barns, and yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you of not? Are you not of more value than they? He gives another example. And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field. How they grow? They neither toil nor spin. Yet I tell you, even Solomon, in all his glory, was not a raid like one of these. But if God so close the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, what will will he not much more clothe you, oh you of little faith? Therefore, do not be anxious, saying what shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or what shall we wear? For the gentile seek after these things, and your heavenly father knows that you need them all. Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and these things will be added to you. Where is the Kingdom of God and his righteousness found? In the one who speaks these words? In Jesus. In Jesus, in his death and in his resurrection on our behalf. In he is bringing about these things, and so we rest in him and therefore rest in God, our provider, and therefore we go to God when we need things. That is how we are content in the in in plenty and in one Jesus says, in Matthew Seven, he says, ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be open to you, for every one who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will him will give him a stone or, if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you, then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children. How much more will your father, who is in heaven, give good things to those who ask him? You see this so such plain and simple truths here. God knows what you need, and so ask him for it. Will he give you a snake when you've asked him for bread? Of course not. He will supply for all your needs. You have any doubt about it, look to Jesus Christ, who has already given you numerous blessings and promises eternal blessings, both physical and spiritual, to come. Do you need things, then depend on him who knows your need. Do not just wait for something to happen, for fate to run its course, but trust in the God who has provided you a savior. Don't depend on fate...

...or magic or wealth, but depend on God, because if you belong to Christ, if you are therefore God's son, then you belong to the Great God and provider of all things, and he'll give you everything that you need. He'll even see to your needs beyond your perceptions of your needs, so that that which he gives in this life, whether he gives you plenty or whether he gives you want, he gives you these things in preparation for eternity, find Christ and your place in him, and you will have found the secret to contentment. Amen. Let us pray.

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