Text: Phil 4:10-20
We’ve reached the end of this incredible letter that Paul wrote to this beloved church at Philippi. Hope you have been as blessed as I have been seeing what drove Paul to live the way he did.
This short letter is filled with coffee mug verses. Ch 1 – you have Paul saying, living is Christ and dying is gain. To live is Christ, the essence of life is Christ, life equals Christ and to die is gain because you finally get to HAVE Christ.
Ch 2 is the famous chapter about the humility of Christ, how Jesus totally emptied himself to become a servant who was obedient to the will of God the Father and he died on a cross and was resurrected 3 days later. In light of this, Paul says, in humility, consider others better or more important than yourselves. Don’t do anything out of rivalry or conceit. Be different. Don’t be like everyone else who looks to their own interests first. Look to the interests of others.
Ch 3 – Paul shares, I consider everything loss, rubbish, filth compared to the surpassing value of knowing Christ. Everything here means every thing. Every single thing. Everything includes good things like your family, your vocation, your job, ministry, church, money, any blessing you can think of. Compared to the surpassing value of knowing Christ, everything else is bleep, excrement, filth. I bet you didn’t know the Bible contained obscenity. Paul is getting into it. He is cursing to make a point. Don’t compare anything with Christ because He’s so much better.
Chapter 4 begins with the phrase, “So then.” In light of the theology learned in chapters 1-3, SO THEN, here is how you are to live. Last week, we had part 1 of our practical application. We talked about rejoicing in the Lord, being gracious in our relationships with others, and being at peace. Why? What allows us to rejoice, be gracious and be at peace? This is possible if and only if we believe that Lord is near (Phil 4:5). Always. In the valley, he is near. On the mountaintop, he is near. When things are going well and when life is crumbling around us, the Lord is near.
How do we sustain our rejoicing, our graciousness and our peace? Verse 6 – we make our requests known to God. During prayer, we cast our burdens to Jesus and we need to resist the temptation to take the burdens back on our shoulders after we finish praying. Another concrete application comes in v8. Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, morally excellent and praiseworthy, dwell on these things. Think about these things. Meditate. This is a good reminder that our thoughts and our hearts are closely linked. You and I may attend church and prayer meetings for decades and not change. We may be exactly the same person we were years ago when we first made a decision for Christ. One reason for this lack of change is because certain thought patterns have not been broken by the power of Jesus. You can agree intellectually that Jesus is near, He is Lord, He will carry my burdens so that I can be free to enjoy him and rejoice and be gracious to others. But unless we really believe it in our minds and then in our hearts, we will keep LIVING as if He is not near. And therefore, I am ultimately the one who needs to take care of everything and figure things out. Which is why we walk around with all of these burdens and anxieties. This is all review.
Now it’s time to finish up this book with Part 2 of Paul’s application from Phil 1-3. And wouldn’t you know it? Paul ends this letter packing quite a punch. If you thought the other weeks were challenging, wait til you get hold of what Paul has to say in the final half chapter. He ends by talking about contentment.
Let’s do a quick survey. How many people in this room are content with life? Raise you hands. How many people are not content?
I did a google search looking for a survey about contentment and I stumbled across a highly reliable source, oprah.com, and I took the “Are you happy quiz?”
The quiz was put together by Dr. Dan Baker. He is the director of the Life Enhancement Program at Canyon Ranch spa in Tucson, Arizona and the coauthor of “What Happy People Know.” Using the latest research in the field of psychology, he devised an emotional checkup based on the theory that happiness develops from a number of internal qualities, including courage, love, humor, altruism, and a sense of freedom and purpose.
Here are some of the questions from Oprah.com’s, Are you happy quiz? For each of these questions, the answers are multiple choice and the choices are: A) Never, B) Infrequently, C) Sometimes and D) Frequently.
Question #1: I believe my life will truly begin when the right person or circumstances come along.
Question #2: I feel best when I give unconditionally to others.
Question #3: When I think about people in my life, I focus on those who have hurt or disappointed me.
Question #4: When I think about people in my life, I focus on those I care about and love.
Question #7: I take myself very, very seriously.
Question #8: I believe it’s up to me to live my life fully and find meaning.
Question #9: When things don’t go well, I feel trapped or overwhelmed.
Question #10: Although life’s circumstances change, my beliefs and capabilities will allow me to survive and thrive.
Question #16: If I don’t have enough money or love, then I feel insecure.
Question #19: Life is good. I really appreciate what I have.
Question #22: I just have too much to do.
Question #23: I feel fulfilled.
Judging from these questions, you can probably guess that this world is filled with many unhappy people. We’re lonely, we’re stressed, our loved ones get old and their bodies break down, people mistreat us, we’re obsessed with money, we’re overworked and under-appreciated. If you are looking for reasons to be discontent, I am sure you and I will find plenty of reasons.
To help you remember the main point of today’s sermon, I have 4 C’s. Do not find your CONTENTMENT in CIRCUMSTANCES. Rather, find your CONTENTMENT in CHRIST (Repeat). Circumstances change like the shifting sands. So if your contentment is derived from circumstances, you’re in trouble. You’ll be content when circumstances are favorable, but as soon as there are some bumps in the road, your contentment evaporates. But if your contentment is anchored in the solid, unchanging Person of Jesus Christ, then no matter what happens to you, you will be content.
Our focus will be Phil 4:12-13. [READ]
Phil 4:13 has got to be one of the most often misquoted and misinterpreted verses in all of Scripture. I can do all things. I can be a football player. I can be a CEO. I can win “X Factor”, I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me. This is not a proper interpretation of that verse.
I think it will be helpful to break down these 2 verses. The phrase, “to have a little” can be translated as “to get along with humble means,” or interestingly “to be brought low.” Literally, to be humble. Reminds us of Phil 2. The phrase “to have a lot” can be translated as “to abound in everything.” You can apply this in any number of ways, but we ought to start with the specific context that Paul is addressing here and then branch out and apply it in a broader sense.
What is the context? Paul is talking about money. Phil 4:10 [READ]
Then, going down a few verses, Phil 4:14-18 [READ]
In Phil 4:10, Paul is talking about the care the Philippians expressed toward Paul by giving him a financial gift. In case there is any doubt that Paul is talking here about finances, he makes it clear in verses 14-18 because he mentions their financial gift during a time of hardship. If someone in my own family is struggling financially, it goes without saying that I will do whatever I can to help him. Because we’re family. That’s what family do. If you’ve ever been poor and someone who is not blood related helps you out of a jam by giving you a generous financial gift, you don’t forget it. Many friends say they care about you, or many church members say they care, but when finances are involved, suddenly, they are nowhere to be seen. If you care enough to give, and I’m not talking about $20 bucks, but giving until it hurts, that’s real care. Paul is thanking the Philippians here for a generous financial gift that he received from them to fund the ongoing mission work.
So v10, he talks about their giving and in v14-18, he again talks about their giving. The verses in between, v11-13, Paul squeezes in his personal testimony.