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Citizens: A Study on Philippians (Part 18)
October 18, 2020

Citizens: A Study on Philippians (Part 18)

October 18, 2020

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Catch up on the series HERE


Citizens: A Study on Philippians

If you have your Bibles… turn to Phil. 4

  • Last week we left off in v 9… Paul is still talking about standing firm
    • And Paul focuses in on the importance of what we meditate on
    • Biblical meditation is not only emptying your mind of the BAD
    • It’s just as important to fill your mind with what is GOOD
  • Paul says whatever is: True, Noble, Right, Pure, praise worthy…
    • These are the things to fill your mind with
    • But how many of you know… it’s easy to meditate on the bad
    • And in that we completely ignore God’s good in the world
  • The way that we stand firm in the Lord is not focusing on negative
    • But focus on the positive things that God is doing in the world
    • Focus on the truth of God… not the fear of the enemy

This week we pick up where we left off – Verse 10

Phil. 4:10-13


Story: Ever been in a rough spot in life

Something really hard happened in your life

  • Maybe: Lost job, break up, diagnosis… and someone was there 4 u
    • And it might not have been much – But meant the world to you
      • Groceries on your doorstep
      • Visit to the hospital… or call to hospital in our day and age
      • Maybe even it was just a text someone is praying for you

I was a youth/worship pastor in Colorado Springs

  • Michelle was pregnant… just left a well paying job 2 start business
    • I had a partner who was doing ministry with me
    • As soon as we started the business – He completely left church
    • Totally changed his work ethic…
      • Constantly playing video games in the back
      • Him and brother would have screaming fights in the store
  • Eventually we had no money… barely making it
    • One night my wife (pregnant) gets stuck on road w/ flat tire
    • No clue how we were gonna pay for that
    • It definitely wasn’t the greatest of times for us
  • Our church ends up paying for tires – And gave us $$$ for groceries
    • How do you repay people for generosity like that
      • Starters by saying what… THANK YOU!

That’s whats going on at end of Philippians

You know the story… Paul is in a Roman Prison (Leave you to die)

  • You get no food… no clothes… no water…
    • And you only survive if someone provides those for you
    • Paul is on the brink of death – and there is little/no hope
  • And that the 11th hour… Here comes a guy named Apathroditus
    • He is from Philippi and has money and food for Paul
    • And Paul is literally saved from death
  • And one of the main reasons Paul writes this is to say “Thank you”
    • The end of Philippians is sorta a glorified “thank you note”

Phil 4:10

That word REJOICE – Means to celebrate

  • Can be translated: I’m having a great celebration in the Lord
    • But… where is Paul by the way? Worst Jail you could imagine
    • And yet he is having a “great celebration in the Lord”
  • And keep in mind what Paul was just talking about
    • Keep your focus on all of the good things in the world
    • Don’t allow yourself to live in the negativity we see every day
  • Paul is calling us to celebrate the goodness of God in ALL CREATION
    • In the early light of a sunrise
    • In the sounds of the morning birds singing
    • In the comfort of a close friend

The world is full of Gods goodness & Paul calls us to open our eyes

  • But Paul isn’t telling us to do something he won’t do first
    • Because he’s in prison… CELEBRATING in the Lord
  • This Word “renew” was a really vivid metaphor used in 1st century
    • For the budding of a flower at spring time
    • He is saying… when Apathroditus walked to may jail cell
    • It was like the end of a long/cold/dark winter in my life
      • And the start of a brand new spring
  • This is Paul saying “Thank you”
    • I’m alive today because of you
    • And the Gospel thrives in the heart of the empire
      • Because of you and your Christ-like generosity

BUT notice what Paul says next…

Phil. 4:11-12

Meaning: To clarify… thank u but I’m not saying this because I need you

  • Which is weird because Paul is totally in need
    • He is completely helpless and a dead man without assistance
    • Paul… What are you talking about that you aren’t in need???
  • Meaning I don’t let my circumstances change my outlook on life
    • When I was planting churches…
      • Life was good/I was with my family/amazing memories
      • And I knew God was on the throne
    • But when I was thrown in prison…
      • Beaten and broken for my faith
      • Not sure if I would live thru that night/Starving/cold/alone
      • I just as much knew God was on the throne
    • B/C even if my circumstances change… my security never will

Secret in the Greek is M-wayo

  • Word used in ancient eastern religions (Tom Cruise/Scientology)
    • In these religions there were initiation rituals
    • And when you completed them u attained secret knowledge

Paul talks tongue/cheek… but claims he found the secret 2 contentment

  • And that’s a huge statement… b/c contentment is elusive …
    • How many can say that I have found the secret to contentment
    • I don’t want anything else in life (110% content)
      • Not more money… more stuff… more square feet
      • Not a better job… better nicer things
  • Paul says… I can – I found the secret… and what blows my mind
    • Nothing about his circumstances says he should be content
      • He isn’t rich (poverty)
      • He isn’t liked (more hated and alone)
      • He isn’t married (most believe widower or wife left him)
      • He isn’t healthy (thorn in the flesh)
    • NOTHING about his circumstances says he should be content
      • Everything that could be bad IS bad
      • And he is having a great celebration in the Lord
  • That’s the guy you want to learn about contentment from

3 thoughts on contentment from Phil. 4

1st: Contentment is something that you learn

Notice language: I have learned to be content (v.11)… I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty (v.12)… I have learned the secret of being content.

B/C contentment is not natural… not our default setting

  • Think of Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden
    • God says: You can eat from any tree in here… except this one
    • And which tree do Adam & Eve eat from
    • In a garden full of “YES” they want the one thing that’s a “NO”
  • Are we any different – In a world full of “YES”
    • We always want the one thing we cannot have
    • So much that we made a saying… “the grass is always greener”
  • And there will ALWAYS be something just out of your reach
    • If only I was married… out of school…
    • If only I had a better job… more money

Story: In 4th grade – I was not the undisputed fastest kid in my grade

  • My best friend was almost as fast as I was
    • We would race during recess… first to run into the chain fence
    • But at the end of 4th grade he went to another school
  • And it was sad I lost my best friend… but also my only competition
    • I remember (dad was my 5th grade teacher) looking at the list
    • Trying to see if any of the names in our class sounded fast
      • And there was only one new kid… his name was Matt
      • He was all I had to worry about
  • By H.S. Matt had state record: 100/200/400/long & triple jump
    • And he became an Abercrombie model
    • And was the nicest guy you could ever meet

Notice the role comparison played in a 4th graders discontentment

  • There will always be a “MATT” in your life
    • Always someone faster than you… funnier/smarter/eloquent
    • And you will never be content until u put to death comparison
    • B/C there will always be someone/something just out of reach
  • And u have to LEARN… that word isn’t an epiphany or light bulb
    • No – it was learning by trial and error
    • It was for the thick headed people like me
      • Think about learning – It is hard work!
      • It takes time… energy… focus… discipline
  • Paul says I worked at it… but after a long period of time
    • I learned the secret of being content
    • And the beauty of that: IF PAUL CAN LEARN… YOU CAN LEARN
      • B/C we have the exact same spirit as Paul inside of us

2nd: Contentment not dependent on circumstances

Phil 4:11-12

Whether employed or not / single or not / healthy or not

  • To learn the secret in every circumstance… any situation
    • And how we think… how our brains process things
    • When I get “X”… then I will be content or happy
  • And we all know that isn’t true…
    • Why – because the moment u get to the goal… the goal moves
    • You get somewhere you’ve worked at for years
    • And its GLORIOUS… for a half hour
      • And then your mind is filled with what’s next
  • Highschool > college > job > real job > promotion > married > home
    • The American dream is a carrot on a stick
    • It’s always right there… but just out of your reach

And the issue is that we think we have options for contentment

  • There are no options… there is only way and its Jesus
    • That’s why Paul says if you aren’t content with Jesus
    • You will never be content… never
  • And what discontentment does: It robs you of joy
    • Robs ur ability to celebrate the goodness of God in the moment
  • Understand contentment not the destination… its a mode of travel
    • It’s not like a city that you get to out on the horizon
      • More like the rental car… how you move thru time & space
    • Because when you are content you can focus on the GOAL
      • When ur not content… you focus on the circumstance
    • And yes some times are better than others (duh!)
      • Some times are easier to be content…
      • But as a general rule… not dependent on circumstances
      • Here is a guy in prison – Celebrating in the Lord

3rd: Contentment is a struggle in times of want/plenty

Phil 4:12

  • A few translations: I learned to cope with having too much
    • What in the world… why does Paul say that
    • B/C gets it – knows how we work… more u have > more u want
  • When I first got a cell phone… Blue Kyocera brick phone
    • No games/camera/text it made phone calls (imagine that)
    • Yet I was way more content with that phone than my iphone 10
  • Is there any comparison on which I should be more content with
    • Yet the more we get… the more we want
    • And we get sucked up into what we do not have
    • B/C the human desire for more is unquenchable

Rockefeller (modern worth would be 200 billion)

  • Asked the question: How much money is enough
    • Famous quote – Just a little bit more… b/c its never enough
  • That’s why the only of the 10 commandments that is repeated…
    • You shall not covet
    • In modern writing to emphasize you bold/italicize/underline
    • In ancient world you repeated it
      • You shall not covet…
      • You shall not covet your neighbors wife/house/donkey
  • B/C this desire bleeds the soul dry

Paul ends: I found the secret… well what is the secret

Phil 4:13

It turns out the secret has a name… Jesus

  • Funny… b/c that verse is quoted all the time by Christians
    • Most of the time out of context (not bad… because it true)
    • But it’s also not what Paul is saying here
  • Not: I can win a football game thru Christ who gives me strength
    • “I can start a business… preach a sermon… stand up for myself”
    • All of that is true – but in context Paul is saying what???
  • I can be content… Which is probably harder than winning anything
    • But in context: Reason I am content in the worst & best times
    • It’s b/c of him who gives me strength

And all Paul’s language is written in a world full of Greek philosophy

  • Main influence was that of something called “Stoicism”
    • And to Stoics… contentment was the ultimate goal of life

Socrates (Asked: Who is the richest on the planet)

He is richest who is content with the least for content is the wealth of nature.

  • Difference between Christian & Greek goal of contentment
    • To the Greek philosophers contentment was self-sufficiency
      • So the way you meet that goal: Detach from everything
      • Live in self-sufficiency… don’t need anything
        • Much like Buddhist beliefs
        • If you live detached from world… eliminate suffering
  • What Paul does… picks up the language of Stoicism
    • Turns It on its head… Philippians would have caught this
    • Saying: Yes contentment is as powerful/good as people say…

But its not found in “Self-sufficiency” but “God-sufficiency”

  • Not I don’t need any of this because “I AM ENOUGH ON MY OWN”
    • No… it’s only in dependency on the living God
    • I need God in order to do anything/everything
  • And from Stoicism > Buddhism > Hipster culture of today (crutch)
    • I don’t need anything… So let go of desires
    • Paul says opposite is true: Don’t let go of desires
      • God created you with desires
      • But put your desires in Jesus (drive/ambition/passion)
  • Put everything into Jesus b/c He is where contentment is found
    • Through Christ and Christ alone… in Christ and Christ alone
    • Because Jesus is always enough
    • You don’t need a relationship… money… promotion…
      • Jesus is everything – DO YOU BELIEVE THAT???

You can be content: Right here… Right now

  • Just look at Paul’s example – Having a celebration in the Lord
    • Not because of where he sleeps at night
    • Not because he has someone to wake up to in the morning
    • Not because Friday is payday…
  • But its not easy “Can do all things thru him who gives me strength”
    • He says that because he is tired… weak… weary
    • Because everything he does is about Jesus
    • Jesus is the point and reason behind every action
  • And if we can get to that place with Paul – All about Jesus
    • Then He will be enough… and you will be content
    • But if u struggle to find peace and contentment in Jesus alone
    • Figure out where your contentment is in… and eliminate it!!!
      • Because whatever that thing is… its idolatry


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