The Secret of Contentment.

January 15, 2023 Preacher: Robert Dorsett Series: Misquoted

Topic: Christian Living Scripture: Philippians 4:10–20

According to Bible Gateway, Philippians 4:13 is the second most popular verse in the New Testament, only behind John 3:16. It’s a verse memorized and beloved by many. This verse almost always gets quoted in conversation with some sort of goal. “This is what I want to do. And it’s me and Jesus. I’m going to win that pageant, I’m going to run that marathon, I’m going to get that promotion because I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

Philippians 4:13 has nothing to do with accomplishing your personal goals. This verse is not about us. It’s about Jesus. The verse is not about the power of positive thinking, that you can accomplish your goals with Jesus. It’s not saying that you can overcome hurdles because of Jesus. It’s not telling you that you can do anything you set your mind to because of Jesus. Those things might all be true also. But when Paul wrote this verse that’s not what he had in mind. This interpretation sells Philippians 4:13 short. It misses the depth of what it is actually communicating. 

There are three lessons, we can learn in this passage:

  1. Content in the Providence of God (v. 10)
  2. Content in the Power of God (v. 11-13)
  3. Content in the Promises of God (v. 14-19)

When you pull a single sentence out of a letter or a 30-second sound bite out of a speech you can make it appear to be saying something that it doesn’t. We see this all the time on social media. That’s why reading in context is SO important. It gives us the full picture of God’s Word. 

In Philippians 4:10-12 Paul is wrapping up his letter to the church in Philippi. He’s wrapping up his thoughts. In many ways he ends his letter with a similar message that he began with. If you were to go back and read Philippians 1 you would see these same concepts. 

Paul is telling the Philippian church that he has learned how to be content regardless of his circumstances. Whether he’s hungry or well-fed. Free or in prison. Has much or has nothing. He’s content not based on his circumstances, but rather on a person: Jesus. 

That’s what’s he’s trying to get across in his letter. That you can be at peace, have joy, be content regardless of your circumstances. If you have Jesus and nothing then you have more than enough. The power of Christ Jesus in you is enough. 

Getting Started                         

  1. “What is the difference between happiness and joy? When is a time in your life that you experienced true joy?”
  • Read Philippians 4:10-20
  1. What insight, principle, or observation from Sunday’s sermon did you find to be the most helpful, eye-opening, or troubling?

Digging Deeper

  1. Paul wrote the book of Philippians from Rome while sitting in a dark, dingy  prison cell. Does this context add any credibility to the message of this letter?
  1. “Why, in chapter 4 verse 4, does Paul call the Philippians to rejoice in the midst of difficulty?”
  1. Paul could testify that he had learnt to be content in plenty and in lack – but how? What was his secret? Read verse 13, 19-20.

The Heart of the Matter

  1. Verse 13 is often pulled out of context as a sort of superman verse telling Christians we can do anything. Looking at it in context what can we learn about what Paul is really saying here?
  1. Paul says in Philippians 4:11 “…I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” The “whatever” that makes this sentence remarkable. It is easy to be content in good situations or in blessed situations – therefore ‘whatever’ is code for being content in bad situations. Before you think that this impossible for me, note that Paul wrote that this had been a process for him. He had ‘learned’ how to be content in whatever situation he found himself in. This was something he had grown in as he followed Jesus.

How content are you at the moment? What is causing you to experience discontentment? Not just materially, but in the stage of life, you are in?

  1. Are you living your life in such a way that it is obvious to everyone else that you believe the Lord is in control – or are there moments where you have been discontent which have led you to wonder if everything is spinning out of control?

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February 5, 2023

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January 29, 2023

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