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Philippians 4:10-23

Doing Away with Discontentment

  • Samuel Wilson
  • Weekend Messages
  • November 05, 2023

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Doing Away with Discontentment


Philippians 4:10-23


This morning we turn to Philippians chapter 4:10-23 which is the final section of the last chapter of the book. In the verses leading up to this section, there was a great deal of attention given to the topic of peace, what to do to get peace, and that true peace is provided by God. We looked at the peace that surpasses comprehension, the peace that comes when we are anxious for nothing, but we pray about everything. Last week we studied verses 8 and 9, as we thought about what we think about, the importance of leaning into what we have learned, and the good news that when we do, the God of peace will be with us.

In the verses we cover today, we move from the word “peace” to another important word, “contentment.” We will look at this word in greater depth throughout the message this morning, however, I want to begin with a working definition of contentment, that is, “feeling comfortable and at peace with one’s circumstances.”  The implications of contentment are far and wide, one word we hear often is the word “happiness,” and happiness carries the definition of feeling content.


Illus. Satisfaction Surveys.


Read: Philippians 4:10


As we turn to these verses, it is important to understand some of the background of Paul’s situation again. Paul had planted the church in Philippi 10 years prior to writing this letter. It was difficult for him there, he had been falsely accused, beaten and imprisoned. Earlier in his ministry, the church had supported him financially (Phil. 4:15). We do not know for how long, or exactly until when, however, we know that at some point their opportunity to support him was lacking. It seems that they lost touch somehow. But 10 years later, they sent Epaphroditus around 800 miles from Philippi to Rome, and sent him a generous financial gift. Paul rejoiced in the Lord at their revived concern for him, and then shares some important secrets on contentment, how they should view the gift they sent, and his confidence in God to provide for them to the fullest extent.


Read: Philippians 4:11-23


With the message title “doing away with discontentment” in mind, I want to point out three secrets Paul gives for being content in every circumstance. Paul wrote “I have learned the secret on contentment,” Paul, please do tell!


  1. Look To Christ, Not Your Conditions


Philippians 4:11, Not that I speak from need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.


  • These two verses are some of the most popular verses in this book, and are among the most quoted or referenced in the Bible.


  • They center on the subject of contentment, but prior to going in on contentment, he separates his ability to be content in his life from his needs.


  • Verse 11, “not that I speak from need…” The word used is “want, or poverty.”


  • His thankfulness, and his contentment was not based on his need, his contentment remained in whatever circumstance he was in.


  • Paul wrote, “I am content in whatever circumstance I am in.”


1 Timothy 6:6-8, But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.


Illus. Needs.


  • Paul wrote, I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am in…He separates his contentment from his needs.


  • Let’s remember his circumstances, he was in prison. Paul was writing this letter from prison; he had been imprisoned for nearly four years.


Illus. The backstory.


2 Corinthians 11:23-27, Far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes.  Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent adrift at sea. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea, dangers among false brothers; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.


  • These were the circumstances Paul was in, and in each and every one of them, he learned to be content.


  • I take comfort in the fact that it is something Paul learned. This tells me that it is something we can learn, despite what surrounds us.


Philippians 4:12, I know how to get along with little, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.


  • Here Paul separates his contentment from how much he has or doesn’t have.


  • When he wrote, “I know how to get along with little,” it is a work that means to be brought low, to be abased, to be leveled, to be humbled.


  • He also knows how to live in prosperity. The word there is to “superabound,” to be in excess, or in abundance.


Illus. Goals.


  • Paul had learned the secret of contentment regardless of circumstances.


  • Paul calls what he learned about contentment a secret; the definition of a secret is that which is kept from the knowledge of all but the privileged. Then Paul shares the secret…


Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.


  • This text has been used in the lives of many for many different reasons. Athletic competitions, auditions, impossible situations, or circumstances, but when applied in context, it is centered on contentment in every circumstance.


  • That is the only way he could be content in any and every circumstance, through Christ who gives him the strength to do so.


  • Paul was able to remain content, because he was basing his strength to do so on Jesus, not his circumstances.


Psalm 23:1-3, The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. (NASB 95’)


  • I shall not want, or be in want, I shall not lack, or, I want for nothing.


  • The idea is not that I have all my wants…But, all my needs are supplied by my shepherd. Not lacking, not deficient, content in the Lord’s hands.


  • “I shall not want,” meaning, I will decide not to be in a state of wanting. Because the Lord is my shepherd and I know He has given me what I need.


Illus. Right where you are.


  • When Paul wrote Him “who strengthens me,” he is speaking of strength given, strength received, one who has increased his strength.


  • Paul could be content because the Lord was giving him strength to do so. Even if and even when the situation didn’t change for him, he clung to the Savior, and remembered the secret, the strength Christ would provide.


  • So our first point in “doing away with discontentment” deals with where you look, and next, what you are seeking after.


Philippians 4:14-17, Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my difficulty. You yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving except you alone; for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs. Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek the profit which increases to your account.


  1. Seek After What He Has to Say About Your Accounts


  • In verses 14 to 17, Paul is telling the church that what they did, the gift they sent was a good thing.


  • Perhaps they could have thought, if you are good either way, why did we send Epaphroditus all that way? Paul makes sure they know that just because he was content, that does not mean he wasn’t in need.  


  • He wants them to know that what they have done is a good thing, and he commends them for their giving.


  • He looks back on their financial partnership with him from the earliest days of his ministry to them.


Philippians 1:3-4, I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now.


  • They had become partners with him in the ministry, and he looks back on it.


  • After leaving Philippi and continuing on his missionary journey, no other church shared with him in the matter of giving and receiving. It was only the church at Philippi.


  • And it wasn’t just an isolated event, Paul reveals that the church had sent gifts to him more than once. We don’t know how many more times, or how regularly he received gifts from the church, but more than once were finances sent to provide for Paul’s needs.


  • He then speaks to the profit that increases to their account. We will look at that account, but what we learn here is that there was an increase to their account from their giving to the ministry.


Acts 20:35, Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”


  • The word blessed is “happy” it is “happier to give than to receive.”


  • Giving is tied to contentment, this is something the people needed to know, but also something we need to know.


Illus. Modern research agrees.


  • The church at Philippi did not have a lot, but they shared with him in giving and receiving. He points out that there would be increases to their account.


  • It may be surprising to some just how much the New Testament and the Old Testament speak about this topic.


  • Interestingly, there are around 2,300 verses concerning money in the Bible…that is more verses than prayer and faith combined…


  • Jesus had a great deal to say about money and possessions, nearly 15% of what Jesus spoke on the subjects.


  • In 11 of his 39 parables…He spoke about money, either as a point of making an application, or directly to what to do with it.


  • After telling us to store up treasures in heaven, Jesus gave us these words…


Matthew 6:24, No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.


1 Timothy 6:17-19, Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to set their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.


Ecclesiastes 5:10, Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.


Illus. Enough?


  • Notice, Solomon wrote of the one who loves money, to loves wealth. Contrary to what some may believe, it is not money that is dangerous, but, the love of money.


Hebrews 13:5, Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have…


1 Timothy 6:6-10, But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (NIV)


  • Paul is speaking of their account. And there are many accounts we have in our lives. Many accounts that we want to fill up, to make sure they are sufficiently supplied. Paul is pointing to heavenly accounts. Not just treasures here on earth, but treasures in heaven.


Illus. Giving.


2 Corinthians 9:6-8, Now I say this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows generously will also reap generously. Each one must do just as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace overflow to you, so that, always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed…


1 Corinthians 16:2, Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.


  • In verse 18, Paul calls their gift a “fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, that which is pleasing to God.”


  • He points to their financial gift as that which is pleasing to the Lord, an act of worship and sacrifice.


  • It was sacrificial on their part, but pleasing and worshipful to the Lord. It was also noted and would be remembered by the Lord, in their kingdom account.


Illus. Luke 16:1-9; kingdom investors.



  • Plan Around His Provision for Now and Forever


Philippians 4:19-23, And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen. Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.


  • It is in verse 19 that Paul gives a promise, it is centered on God supplying the needs of the people, on God’s provision for them.


  • This is cross categorical, Paul wrote, all your needs.


  • He points to the riches in glory in Christ, and the fact that His glory, His love, His provision endures forever and ever.


Psalm 37:3-5, Trust in the Lord and do good; live in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it.

Philippians 4:10-23

10But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked an opportunity to act. 11Not that I speak from need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12I know how to get along with little, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. 14Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my difficulty. 15You yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving except you alone; 16for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs. 17Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek the profit which increases to your account. 18But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen. 21Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. 22All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household. 23The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

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