10 How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me. 11 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.14 Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty. 15 As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia. No other church did this. 16 Even when I was in Thessalonica you sent help more than once. 17 I don’t say this because I want a gift from you. Rather, I want you to receive a reward for your kindness. 18 At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. 20 Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen.
Instead of a coveting heart God wants us to have a:
- Controlled Heart
In Luke 12:15 a man told Jesus to tell his brother to divide up their inheritance, seeing what was really going on Jesus called him out for coveting: “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”It is here that we see Jesus confronting the covetous heart and clearly contradicting the values of our American consumer culture based on coveting. When we have a covetous character, no matter what we have, it is never enough. The key to killing coveting is to cultivate:
It’s here in Philippians 4:10-20 that we discover how to cultivate contentment and live in a coveting culture without giving in to the destructive desire for more. Paul learned and teaches us that contentment is not found in our circumstance but in Christ. Here in America we have amassed more materially than most, controlling much of the world’s wealth and yet it has not made us more contented, only more covetous. Peace is not found in a covetous heart but a contented heart. So how do we cultivate contentment in a culture that constantly demands bigger and better, more and more? First realize that:
- Contentment comes from resting in Christ’s provision not constant consuming.
Philippians 4:19 says: “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”When we rely on self instead of the Savior, we fall into the trap of continual trying. We need to rest in Christ and then resist the urge to compare ourselves to others. 2 Corinthians 10:12 says “For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.”We compare careers, clothes, cars, just about anything and everything. Why do we compare, because that’s the way our society keeps score. We count points by possessions, but your possessions have nothing to do with your significance or importance. In Luke 12:15 Jesus reminds us how covetousness can consume us, taking over to the point where our real trust lies in our treasurers:“And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”You can have all the possessions and amass all the points and still live a pointless life. You can be a millionaire and be miserable or you can be poor and live a purposeful life. It’s not about what you have but who you have in Christ. We need to learn to admire without having to acquire. Next find your:
- Satisfaction in the Savior not stuff
Success doesn’t come through acquiring stuff but through serving the Savior. Many of us are trying to find our joy in junk instead of in Jesus. While the world finds its power in possessions, we find it in a person, Jesus. It’s not what we possess but who we possess. Are you looking to substitutes or the Savior to fill your heart?
- Rejoice in what you do have
Notice that Paul’s rejoicing in verse 10 revolved around who he had not what he had. His praise was focused on the people in his life not the possessions of this life. If we are not careful, we will base our praise on riches instead of relationships. We will make it about money instead of what matters. So, let me ask you, are you problem focused or praise focused? If we are not careful, we can fall into the trap of “When and Then” thinking: When I get married, then I’ll be happy or when I get divorced, then I’ll be happy. When we have kids, then we’ll be happy or when I get another job, then I’ll be happy. We need to remember that happiness is not getting whatever you want it’s enjoying whatever you have. The problem is that many of us are so busy buying into the belief that we have to have more that we never enjoy what we have. There is a story about a rich man that finds a man lazily man sitting by his boat. “Why aren’t you fishing?” asks the rich man. “Because I’ve caught enough fish for today.” “Why don’t you catch more fish than you need?” the rich man asks. “What would I do with them?” replied the fisherman. “You could sell them for money, buy a better boat, go into deeper water, catch even more fish and make lots more money. Soon you could have a fleet of fishing boats and be rich like me.” So, the fisherman asked, “Then what would I do?” “You could sit down and enjoy life.” To which he replied, “What do you think I’m doing now?”
- Learn to base your contentment on Christ not your circumstances
Paul says in VS 11-12 “for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything.”Satisfaction is not based on our stuff or our situation but on the Savior.
- Look to give not to get
In verse 17 we see that Paul wanted to be a blessing not a burden. Are you focused on your burden or on being a blessing?
- Give glory to God not greed
In verse 20 Paul gives the glory to God. Do you spend more time talking about stuff or the Savior? If you were to look at where you spend your time, treasures and talents would it point to glorifying God or getting things. Your credit card, checkbook and calendar reveal what you celebrate, is it Christ or consuming? The story is told of young Charles Darwin that one day he was eagerly holding one rare beetle in his right fist, another in his left and then suddenly he caught sight of a third beetle that he simply knew he must have for his collection. What to do? In a flash he put one of the beetles in his mouth for safekeeping and reached for the third beetle with his now free hand. But the mouth-imprisoned beetle squirted acid down Darwin’s throat, so that in a fit of coughing he lost all the beetles.Contentment kills coveting in the same way coveting kills contentment!Are you trying to find your contentment in Christ or in the culture?