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Being Satisfied in God

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Piper Video
Philippians 4:10–12 AV
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
By way of introduction, let me say that contentment is a very very rich word and that is the word I want to focus on in this section. In fact, if I were to title the message I would call it, "The secret of contentment."
Contentment is not only a rich word but it is also a biblical word. In fact, the Bible has quite a bit to say about this matter of being content. Paul said in :
1 Timothy 6:6 AV
But godliness with contentment is great gain.
1 Tim
1 Timothy 6:8 AV
And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
The writer of Hebrews in chapter 13 verse 5 says:
Hebrews 13:5 AV
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
The Bible then not only identifies contentment as a virtue but speaks of contentment as a command.
You are to be content with whatever you have. You are to be content with food and clothing.
You are to be content with your wages.
You are to be content because you understand that an utterly and totally and infinitely and supernaturally resourceful God will never leave you or forsake you.
Contentment is a virtue, contentment is a command.
Frankly, most people don't experience it. Most Christians don't experience it, obviously, to the degree that God desires us to.
We tend to be a very discontent people.
And I have this sort of personal theory that the more you have the more discontent you become.
If that is true, then this must be one of the most discontent societies in the history of the human race.
We are called to contentment.
We are called to be satisfied.
We are called to say I have enough.
Most of us don't experience that.
Paul did.
Paul was a satisfied man.
He was a contented man.
Now remember, Paul when writing this letter is a prisoner. He is chained to a Roman soldier.
He is incarcerated in some probably small apartment in the city of Rome. He is in isolation.
He is unable to move about.
He has lost the freedom to work and minister at the capacity that he once had it.
He is therefore much in need, probably existing on bare subsistence level.
He is afflicted with the difficulty of being a captive.
And in the midst of this need the Philippians having heard of it have sent to meet his necessities.
This is, no doubt, the saddest part of the life of Paul up to this point, being chained to a soldier, able to touch only a few friends who could find him, anticipating a trial before Nero which could result in his execution, made it a very difficult time.
But very typically Pauline and certainly typical of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, beneath the surface of the expression of thanks is the vision of a contented man as the Spirit of God goes deeper than what we read initially to show us something that is profoundly impactful in our own lives.
Here we find a contented man, therefore we find the example of contentment which we so desperately need if we are to follow.

I. A Satisfied Person is Confident in God’s Providence (vs. 10)

Philippians 4:10 AV
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.
Just a little background.
It had been ten years since Paul’s ministry had resulted in the founding of the Church in that city.
According to , When Paul moved south into Achia, the Philippians continued their support as he ministered in Athens and Corinth.
As the years passed they had consistently been concerned about Paul but they lacked the opportunity to provide support for his ministry.
The reason is not given.
But perhaps it was because they were preoccupied with the crushing poverty that they were experiencing.
Perhaps they were unaware of the Apostle’s needs or where unable to locate him.
But recently, according to the text further down, Epaphroditus had arrived in Rome with a generous gift from the Philippians which he rejoiced in greatly.
Now understand that Paul rejoiced, not because the gift meant a need, but because it gave evidence of their love for him.
His joy was overflowing that after ten years their love for him was revived.
The word “flourished” is the Greek word “ἀναθάλλω” and means “to bloom again, to grow up again”.
The Philippians generous affection for Paul, after sitting dormant for ten years, had bloomed once again.
Paul adds a statement here to ward off any misunderstanding on the Philippians parts.
Philippians 4:10 AV
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.
Paul knew that they were always concerned about him, but lacked the financial ability to support him.
2 Corinthians 8:12 AV
For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.
Ø Paul knew that they were always concerned about him, but lacked the financial ability to support him.
Ø 12For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.
Here is the point.
Paul’s gracious attitude reflects his patient confidence in God’s Sovereign providence.
Paul was certain that God in due time would arrange his circumstances to meet his needs.
There was no panic in his heart, no attempt to manipulate people, no guilt speeches, no taking matters into his own hands.
Paul was content because he knew the times, seasons, and opportunities of life are controlled by the Sovereign God.
Ephesians 1:11 AV
In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
Ø 11In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,
Listen, those that seek to control their own lives will inevitably live to be frustrated.
A confident trust in God’s providence is foundational to contentment.
There are two ways in which God works in our world.
The first is by miracles.
A miracle is God’s direct, sovereign intervention in the natural world.
It is an event so contrary to the natural flow of events that no scientific, or naturalistic explanation can be given; other than the power of God.
There is no natural explanation to the parting of the Red Sea or restoring sight to eyes that have been blind from birth or raising the dead to life.
The second is by Providence.
God’s providence is not miraculous in the sense that He interrupts the natural order.
Rather, providence allows for all the contingencies, events, words, acts, decisions and elements of normal life.
God supernaturally weaves them together to fit His exact purpose.
This is a supernatural as a miracle.
Proverbs 16:9 AV
A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.
Proverbs 19:21 AV
There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.
Jeremiah 10:23 AV
O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.
Acts 4:27–28 AV
For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.
Ø 9The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
Ø 21Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
Ø 23I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.
Ø 27for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel,
Ø 28to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.
God providentially arranged for Joseph to rise to a high position in Egypt to save his people.
Genesis 50:20 AV
But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.
Ø 20As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
God also providentially arranged for Esther to be in a position to save Israel.
Esther 4:14 AV
For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
Ø 14For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
An understanding of God’s sovereign, providential control of events is critical to contentment.

II. A Satisfied Person Is Satisfied with Little (vs. 11)

Philippians 4:11 AV
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
Philippians 4:12 ESV
I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
Phil 4:12
Matt Chandler Video
Paul was very quick to add a disclaimer to his statement of thanks to the Philippians.
He did not mean to imply that he spoke from necessity to want anything.
Because Paul said that he had learned to be content in whatever situation he found himself.
Even though Paul’s situations were very difficult, he was not discontent.
It did not matter that he was a prisoner living in a small apartment, chained to a Roman soldier, surviving on a sparse diet.
None of those things affected his contentment because he was satisfied with what little he had.
His contentment was not affected by physical deprivations.
The Greek word for “content” is “αὐτάρκης” and it appears only here in the NT.
It was borrows from extra biblical Greek to speak of being self-sufficient, having enough or not being dependent on others.
True contentment only comes from God and enables believers to be satisfied and at ease in the midst of problems.
This kind of attitude is incomprehensible in today’s society.
People are not content with either little or much.
In fact, it seems that those with the most are often the most miserable and discontent.
We must understand, as Paul did, that the chief end of man is not to have his needs met, but to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
Because his attitude was Godward, he was content with whatever God graciously granted him.
1 Timothy 6:8 AV
And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
Ø 8But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.
John Calvin said about contented believers, “Hence they do not measure sufficiency by abundance, but by the will of God, which they judge of by what takes place, for they are persuaded that their affairs are regulated by his providence and good pleasure.”[1]
When Socrates was asked, “Who was the wealthiest?”
He replied, “He that is content with the least….”
It is important for us to realize in all fairness and grace to keep in mind Paul’s words, “I have learned….”
These were not lessons learned automatically but learned through trial over the years.
Because he understood God’s providence, he was dependent and satisfied in Christ and needed nothing else.
When one has their focus on Christ, you will find contentment in very little because He is all that you need.
We have inexhaustible resources available to us in Christ, whether our outward circumstances are characterized by abundance or poverty.
When difficult times came, Paul remained content because he was satisfied with little.
Kent Hughes said, “Paul and all who are in Christ are God-sufficient as opposed to self-sufficient. Contentment is rooted in the eternal God rather than in the temporal self.” [2]
“Paul is sufficient and content not because he is independent but because he is totally dependent—upon Christ.” [3]
William Hendriksen gives us a good meaning to Paul’s words in this verse when he said:
“The satisfaction of a material need must not be construed as being either the real reason for or the measure of my joy. On the contrary, regardless of outward circumstances, I would still be satisfied. My conversion-experience, and also my subsequent trials for the sake of Christ and his gospel, have taught me a lesson. The path which I traveled led me ever closer to Christ, to his love, and to his power, yes to Christ and contentment in him. That very contentment is riches to me.” [4]

III. A Satisfied Person Is Independent of Circumstances (vs. 12)

Philippians 4:12 AV
I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
Paul explains that he had had his share of poverty when he says that he gotten along with humble means.
He knew how to live in poverty; to be filled and to have abundance.
Paul was no ivory tower theologian, he had lived and ministered in the trenches.
His life was not exactly a testimonial for the prosperity gospel.
Acts 9:22–25 AV
But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ. And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him. Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.
Acts 14:19 AV
And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.
Ø 22But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.
Acts 16:22–24 AV
And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.
Ø 23When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him,
Ø 24but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him,
Acts 17:5–10 AV
But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things. And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go. And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.
Ø 25but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket.
Ø 19But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead.
Ø 22The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods.
Ø 23And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely.
Ø 24Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
The point is this.
Ø 5But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd.
Ø 6And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also,
Ø 7and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.”
Ø 8And the people and the city authorities were disturbed when they heard these things.
Ø 9And when they had taken money as security from Jason and the rest, they let them go.
Ø 10The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue.
Ø The point is this.
In all of Paul’s unique and constant sufferings, he had learned the secret of rising above them.
In the midst of all his trials, he kept his focus on heavenly realities.
Colossians 3:1–2 AV
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
2 Corinthians 4:17 AV
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
Ø 1If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
Ø 2Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
Ø 17For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,
With that perspective is it any wonder that no amount of pain, suffering, or disappointment could affect his content.
John Calvin said,
“Prosperity is wont to puff up the mind beyond measure, and adversity, on the other hand, to depress. From both faults he declares himself to be free.” [5]
So what is the Secret to being a contented believer?
A Confidence in the Providence of God, A Satisfaction with Little, and An Independence of Circumstances.
Ø Let’s pray.
[1] Calvin, J., & Pringle, J. (2010). Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians (p. 124). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
[3] Hughes, R. K. (2007). Philippians: the fellowship of the gospel (p. 183). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
[4] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Philippians (Vol. 5, p. 204). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
[5] Calvin, J., & Pringle, J. (2010). Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians (p. 124). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
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