Contentment and Providence- Part 3
Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content
in whatever circumstances I am. NASB
In this brief study I would like to:
1) Show briefly that God is in His
2) Remind us of His great and precious promises to care for us and meet all of our needs, and also that His Providence is loving and always has our highest good in mind, not necessarily our earthly comfort
3) Show briefly that discontentment is a embittering sin which greatly hinders our enjoyment of God and our ability to glorify Him
4) Exhort us to contentment through Philippians 4:11-13
4 ) Exhort us to contentment through Philippians 4:11-13
Philippians 4:11 – 11 Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. NASB
A. 11 Not that I speak from want – Here Paul is simply commenting on verse 10 where he is commending the Philippians for providing for his welfare. Here he is saying that he is currently in a situation where he has unmet needs, but rather that he is amply supplied.
B. for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am – Contentment is a lesson that we must learn, “I have learned to be content.” It does not come naturally or by easy means. It only comes after we have found ourselves in plenty and in need, in happiness and in sorrow, on the mountaintop and in the valley, and in all of these places have learned that God is our source, He is our shield, He is our comfort and our hope. Through these ups and downs we learn to be content that God is on the throne, and ordering the events of our lives according to His wise
Philippians 4:12 – 12 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 abundance and suffering need. NASB
A. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; – Here Paul explains he knows how no to be distressed or anxious when he is in need, nor to complain against God when resources are meager. But in contrast, he knows how to “live in prosperity,” that is, to be content with what he has and not driven by a continual lust for more, but rather humble and thankful to God for the many blessings. Notice that there is temptation in either circumstance, whether having barely enough or plenty, we are tempted to either complain against
B. in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need – Here see that his knowing how to get along deals with “any and every circumstance,” which means beyond just having food and shelter. See here that contentment is necessary in all the situations of life we find ourselves in. This means being content with our spouses, our careers, our children’s temperaments, our health or sickness, our homes, our in-laws, our neighbors and any other things in our lives. Learn here that Paul calls it “the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need” Consider, could one actually be content in “going hungry” or “suffering need”? Or what about “being filled” and “having abundance,” can we be content in that and not lusting for more? Surely we can, and Paul tells us “the secret” in the next verse.
Philippians 4:13 – 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. NASB
A. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me – Now this grand statement of the apostle begs the question, “How many things is all things?” And, in this context of being contented, surely Paul means to say that no matter what circumstances we face, we can be contented before God, and happy in Him. Consider Job, even though
Job 1:20-22 – 20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” 22 Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God. NASB
In all of this, “Job did not sin nor did he blame God.” Consider, if Job can face what he faced and still worship God and not blame God, but rather trusted in and praised God no matter what he faced, how much more can we, who have the knowledge of Christ and the indwelling Spirit to comfort? In fact, we “can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Barnes comments… “I can do all things. From the experience which Paul had in these various circumstances of life, he comes here to the general conclusion that he could “do all things.” He could bear any trial, perform any duty, subdue any evil propensity of his nature, and meet all the temptations incident to any condition of prosperity or adversity. His own experience in the various changes of life had warranted him in arriving at this conclusion; and he now expresses the firm confidence that nothing would be required of him which he would not be able to perform. In Paul, this declaration was not a vain self-reliance, nor was it the mere result of his former experience. He knew well where the strength was to be obtained by which to do all things, and on that arm that was able to uphold him he confidently relied.”
Dear Christian, shall you poison your blessed days with the sour water of discontent? Why not look beyond the “light and momentary affliction” (2 Cor 4:17) to Christ, your strong Savior, and there find all of the comfort and grace needed to endure. In fact, your trial is designed by God’s good
1 Peter 5:6-7 – 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you. NASB
Let us therefore learn Paul’s secret here….it is Christ who strengthens us in this life. If you want to be happy, if you want to be settled and peaceful no matter what you face, if you desire to be content in “any and every circumstance,” you “can do all things through Him who gives you strength!” Will you trust him?
Remedies and exhortations to contentment
1) Learn to delight in God and be thankful (1 Thes 5:16-18). Count your blessings ever and always!
2) Be careful not to get too attached to things in this world (1 John 2:15-17), for you do not know when they will be taken from you. You must be willing to part with anything, should the Lord require it of you.
3) Be sure that you are valuing Christ above all other things in your life. If you are not, your value system is broken and in desperate need of repair, because He is most valuable.
4) Remember always that God knows what is best for you and will never give you more than you can bear (1 Cor 10:13), but will always be a refuge for those who call upon Him for deliverance (Psalm 145:18-19). God has designed your suffering to work for your good, and will at the proper time give you relief. His will shall never lead you where His grace will not keep you.
5) Let a Christian often think with himself, “who hath placed me here, whether I am in a high sphere, or in a lower. Not chance or fortune, as the purblind heathens imagined; no, it is the wise God(Lam 3:37-38) that hath by his providence fixed me in this orb.” Thomas Watson
6) When facing a bitter trial, remember that God has promised never to leave you or forsake you (Heb 13:5-6), but will be your strength and hope no matter what you face. You must come to Him personally for strength…. “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me!”
7) Prayer gives vent to your sufferings. Pour out your compliant to God, with humility and contrition ask Him what response He might be seeking from you. Then leave you care at His feet, as often as possible, expecting either His deliverance or His grace to endure. He is worthy of your trust and you can believe his promises to care for you.
8) Your sufferings are not so great as your sins: put these two in the balance, and see which weighs heaviest; where sin lies heavy, sufferings lie light. A carnal spirit makes more of his sufferings, and less of his sins. Thomas Watson
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