Bible Topics
in the Christian Library

Philippians 4:10-13

John L. Kachelman, Jr.


I. What do we mean by "contentment"?

1. We are speaking of one's attitude which is able to accept events in life in such a way that he is able to function as normal.

2. It is not apathy and indifference in despair which asserts, "There is nothing I can do, let come what may!" This is a quite restfulness in the midst of all events.

3. Literally is "contained." It refers to one whose ability to cope lies within and he is in no need of substitutes without. Because we are in Christ and He in us, we are adequately equipped for the demands of life!

II. From the text we find the clearest passage in the Bible that discusses contentment. "How different was the great Apostle! Though deprived of every comfort, and cast as a lonely man on the shores of the great metropolis, with every movement of his hand clanking a fetter, and nothing before him but the lion's mouth or the sword, he speaks serenely of contentment . . . he was absolutely content with the circumstances of his lot. Looking up into the face of Jesus, he confessed his discontent; looking around at the prison, the gaoler, and the future, since these were all contained in the will of God for him, he was absolutely satisfied, because infinite love had provided them" (Meyer).

III. This contentment is so elusive to modern man!

1. Our present day finds multitudes seeking this peaceful contentment which Paul enjoyed. There are countless prayers offered for it, but little conviction in their being answered. Multitudes of programs offer a magical solution but in reality give a paltry little!

2. The business world has based its marketing appeal on the craving for contentment. All of your problems can be solved (so we are told) by purchasing a beverage, sleeping aid, clothing, shoes, or panty hose!

3. The child of God should be the one among many who is able to confidently rest in this contentment (Ps 37:7, 16; Pr 16:8; 17:1; Eccl 9:7-9; Hb 13:5; 1 Ti 6:6).

a. But a casual glance at the church will reveal that many members are like those in the world. They all share a biography which reads little more than birth, play, work, eating, sleeping, and dying -- no contentment!

b. Our text provides a most needed lesson! It shows us the truth of joyous contentment.


I. Joyous contentment arises from the presence of faithful friends (v. 10).

A. Paul's friends in Philippi uplifted his spirits.

1. A greeting from distant friends always serves to provoke fond memories, cheer, love, and a smile.

2. Paul knew they had never stopped caring. He knew it was love for him, the gospel, and Christ which prompted their gift.

3. Paul rejoiced GREATLY because of them!

B. Such warm greetings and accepting friends are vital to us as we face struggles.

1. It helped Paul to be content and it will help us as well. Many of us lack contentment because we are not either givers or receivers of a generous friendship! Many of us have the opportunity but lack to concern of the Philippian brethren!

2. How can we aid contentment in our life and others by friendship?

a. By taking "thought" of other's needs.

b. By "renewing" our thoughts for others when they fade.

c. By grasping all opportunities to take action.

d. By openly expressing love, support, and strength to all who are in need.

C. Are you such a friend? Does your friendship help others to be contented?

II. Joyous contentment results from a "learning" process (v. 11, 12).

A. Paul tells us that contentment is not automatic.

1. This virtue has to be learned because it is not natural to most.

2. Paul's schooling was given as he went through many difficult experiences. It was the product of a disciplined life and thoughts.

B. We must learn this lesson well and keep "our hands in it" by constant practice. How?

1. By being initiated (v. 12). Through trial and testing Paul passed this initiation (2 Co 11:23-27; 1 Co 4:9f) and remained faithful to God!

2. By dealing with the trials of the world in a positive way (Col 1:24). Paul schooled himself to dwell on the bright side, to lay more stress upon what he had thank upon what he lacked. He refused to listen to the dark suggestions of Satan!Some years ago, some littele children in a poor economic section of the city were having a good time making believe they were riding a beautiful horse when they were only riding an old log in their back yard. A man who was passing by observed their enjoyment and said, "Good Morning! That's rather slow ridging. Wouldn't you like a horse and buggy?" "Yes sir!" shouted one of them, "but we haven't any, so we are getting the most fun we can out of what we have!"

3. By resolving that progress will be made -- "have." There had been a period when Paul was not content, but he had made progress since that time!

4. By making Christ the center of life. All of Paul's life was centered around the will of God -- he adjusted his desires to those of God. He saw the problems and knew that God would do what he was unable to do.

C. This schooling process took a long time but Paul never quit. How are YOU doing in your "learning"?

III. Joyous contentment results from enjoying life, no matter what the circumstances may be (v. 11, 12).

A. This does not mean that Paul was never discouraged, or overcome by troubles (Ac 18:9-11). But he did not remain so very long! (2 Co 4:8-15). It was his confident faith that enabled him to find contentment (Ro 4:20-21).

B. How could Paul enjoy life even in the midst of trial and suffering?

1. He was not bound by THINGS for contentment!

a. Far too many think that contentment is found only in possessions. "Each dollar leads a merry chase for another, never finding contentment."

b. How content would we be if we missed food, clothes, shelter, or money? How would we adapt?

c. Paul was a content with nothing as much as with plenty!

2. He was not bound by CIRCUMSTANCES for contentment!

a. "State" -- wherever and whatever, he could adapt!

b. While flying back to Chicago from upper New York via New York City, we had to stay in our holding pattern over Kennedy Airport for more than an hour. When the stewardess announced that we would be landing an hour late, a man across the aisle shouted, "Bring out the booze!" This was his only resource when things were going against him.

c. His happiness was not in circumstances but in his peace of mind!

3. He could enjoy life because he shared in a powerful secret! A needlepoint pattern-- Bloom where you are planted!" We need to be satisfied where we are "planted" .

IV. Joyous contentment comes by looking at life from Heaven's viewpoint (v. 13).

A. Heaven sees the total control of God over all things on earth!

1. A preacher arrived to conduct a series of meetings in a country church. After his first service, his hosts took him to their home and later showed him to his room. When he awakened the next morning, he noticed something most peculiar. Scratched on the window pane were the words, "This is the day." "What could this mean?" he thought. His curiosity prodded him until at breakfast he asked the meaning of the strange phrase scratched on the glass. His hostess smiled and explained that for many years, though she had been a Christian, her life had been filled with anxious care. Because of worry, she had known little joy or happiness. She had always lived in the future hoping for a brighter, better day which never came. Possibly when the children were educated, the mortgage paid and other needs met, peace would come. Then one morning which she was having her devotions, she read: This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in IT (Psa. 118:24). Like a light shining from the heavens above, those words illuminated her heart and mind. She had always anticipated contentment in Christ, but had never known it. For the first time, she realized that God's marvelous peace was to be claimed; that the present was for her. The future belongs to Him. As a lasting reminder of this glorious truth, she had scratched it on the window pane, that each morning thereafter as she awakened she might see "THIS IS THE DAY" -- Not tomorrow, but today she should trust God for everything and rejoice and be glad in it. This is what Paul meant when he said, "I can do all things through Christ." He well realized that the Lord would provide for every detail if only he would fully trust the Saviour.

2. Ps 48:14--One who has faith in God's control will find contentment in any circumstances!

B. Heaven sees the sufficiency of God for all of man's weaknesses (2 Co 12:9-10).

1. Paul could do "everything" required of him because he had an abundant source of strength and help! (Ep 3:20; Philip 4:19). He was willing to do "everything" no matter the circumstance!

2. Paul's motto was "I can because of Christ!" (2 Co 3:5).

3. Here is trust in God! "He who trusts the Lord Jesus for today, will not worry about tomorrow . . . with child-like faith he constantly looked to the Saviour and trusted Him for every need. Paul was certain that whatever the test, God would provide wisdom and guidance" (Blair).

C. Heaven sees the confidence of trusting in God.

1. Paul's words are confident, he is equal to anything and everything, no matter what it brings.

2. Many fail to find contentment because they are not confident in God's power! May we remember 2 Co 12:10!

V. Lessons of practical value on contentment.

A. Contentment will never be found in material goods. Someone asked John D. Rockefeller how much money is enough. He thought and then replied, "Just a little more than one has." (cf. Lk 12:15).

B. Contentment is possible if we are willing to learn it! Such requires a change from depending on ourselves to depending on God (Is 40:3).

C. Contentment comes only when we place Christ first in our life! (v. 13).

D. Those who share contentment are the servants in our Father's house who have "bread enough and to spare" (Lk. 15:17). Sufficient supplies are available for all that is required of us.


I. Paul's contentment is well stated (v. 11, 13, 18). He did not have to be pampered to be content. Even in trials he remained trusting in God.

II. We desperately need to find this contentment today.

1. It comes only by obedient trust in God (Jere 10:23).

2. We will still find sadness and sorrow, but with Christ, contented peace will flood our hearts! (Ps 46:1, 2).

3. Our inability in trials illustrates even greater God's ability (2 Co 9:8).

4. If there is a longing in your heart for rest, satisfaction, and contentment, follow the Apostle's inspired counsel!

Copyright 1998 by John L. Kachelman, Jr. may be reproducted for non-commercial purposes at no cost to others.

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