Christian Contentment (Philippians 4:10-13)
Topic: Philippians Scripture: Philippians 4:10–4:13
First Scripture Reading: Genesis 50:1-26
Second Scripture Reading: 1 Timothy 6:3-21
Sermon Text: Philippians 4:10-13
“We could think in terms of three main categories of discontentment with God’s providence in our lives. Not surprisingly they involve things that are happening, have happened, and will happen. Here are some questions to ask yourself [as you prepare to reflect on Phil. 4:10-13 and the sermon].
Am I grumbling about the present? If we are grumbling about something we’re going through right now, we are arguing with God. We are saying that we shouldn’t have to endure this. Our present experiences are like a magnet drawing out either our discontentment or our contentment. If we are grumbling, we can be sure we are not content. We are essentially saying that God is getting it wrong. Such discontentment questions God’s wisdom, goodness, and power.
Am I bitter about the past? Everyone has faced hard days. Some people’s pasts are harder than others’, but all have felt the sting of sin and pain in our fallen world. Many people live under the cloud of their past hardships and become increasingly bitter. Over time they revisit and analyze the situations from the perspective of a victim, only to feed their bitterness. We cannot be content in the present when we are nursing bitterness about the past. We are basically saying that God failed us. This discontentment also questions God’s wisdom, goodness, and power.
Am I worrying about the future? What is going to happen tomorrow? How do I know it’s really going to be okay? Where will I work? Whom will I marry? We can ask hundreds of questions about the future, but the bottom line is that we don’t know. And we can’t know. Sadly, many people sit in bondage to worry about the future and lose the joy of contentment in the present. Jesus saw this as the trait of the unbeliever (Matt. 6:25-34) rather than the believer, who knows and trusts God. If we are worrying, we are as much as saying that God won’t get it right. This is yet another form of discontentment that questions God’s wisdom, goodness, and power.”
(from Erik Raymond, Chasing Contentment: Trusting God in a Discontented Age, p. 125)
1. For review, read Philippians 4:8-9. Was this text beneficial to you this past week in helping you to think about what pleases God and not dwell on sinful thoughts and desires?
2. What was Paul thanking the Philippians for in 4:10? Why was it so important for him to receive support from churches during his missionary journeys?
3. Read Philippians 4:11-12. Why is it significant that Paul said he “learned” to be content? What does that teach us about our own spiritual maturity?
4. Read 2 Corinthians 11:16-33 and consider the hardships that Paul faced in his life. Where do you most often look for contentment? Where did Paul find contentment?
5. Read Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 5 (On Providence). What is the connection between a biblical understanding of divine providence and contentment? Do you find peace and comfort in what paragraph 7 explains?
6. What does Philippians 4:13 mean in context? Did you have a different understanding about its meaning before studying this passage?
7. In preparation for next week, read Philippians 4:14-20. What “partnership” did Paul have with the Philippians? What do you think is the significance of the way in which Paul describes the Philippians’ gifts in v. 18?