In Philippians chapter 4 Paul says that he has learned to be content in every situation. I think that’s a great lesson for us all to learn. Let’s look at this passage and ask who were his teachers and what was the curriculum to see if we too can learn to be content?
Learning to be Content (Philippians 4:11-13)
Verse 11 The basic context here is that Paul is writing this letter from prison.
• There are two keys issues here: learning and circumstances.
• First, Paul didn’t just magically become content. He learned to be content.
• The word used here means: to increase one’s knowledge, to gain understanding through experience.
o We must remember that learning is an active process
• This begs the question, what was he studying? The character and nature of God
o And how God works through His Kingdom on earth.
• Second, circumstances
o Paul was not focused on the circumstances around him.
o They were just that, circumstantial.
o Rather, he focused on Jesus and his nature.
Verse 12 He goes on to define a little better what those circumstances were.
• The circumstances of material things did not affect his contentment.
o Paul is showing us that the material, or the amount of something, doesn’t have to negatively impact our contentment.
• Then he repeats this idea that he has learned to be content. But here he uses a different word.
o This word means: to learn the secret of, to initiate into the mysteries.
o So, it seems that at least for Paul “learning” to be content can be a bit of a mystery.
• Then Paul goes on to further define the circumstances, this time he mentions well fed or hungry.
o As we look at the life of Paul, we know that he experienced real hunger. Not just skipping a meal.
o And at other times he was well fed.
No matter which situation he was in, he could be content.
Verse 13 (NTE) I have strength for everything in the one who gives me power.
• This verse is often quoted, but often not with the context.
o Christ can strengthen him for all things, because of the contentment.
Because of the hardships he has endured, to learn contentment
o In a sense, Christ can trust Paul with the strengthening because of Paul’s contentment.
o And, the contentment didn’t come without Paul’s own strength being tested and stretched.
• Because Paul endured all the hardships that he did, his own strength was tapped out.
o Remember the verse from last week where he expected to die. 2 Cor 1:8
How did Paul learn to become content? Phil 1:6; Phil 1:14; Phil 1:21; Phil 2:14; Phil 2:21; Phil 3:7-8; Phil 3:10-11; Phil 3:18-20; Phil 4:4-9
Note: There is a Difference between being content and longing for the more of God.
So how do I begin to learn how to be content? Focus on three: Phil 1:6; Phil 2:14; Phil 4:4