A list for contentment . . .

Vol. 4, No. 12

Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, 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. –Philippians 4:11-12

Quite content . . . that is where I want to be.

This section of Scripture is Basic 101 in the Joy of Life course. You will want to read further in this chapter of Philippians, for Paul helps us understand where his mind and heart responds to life. He is just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. He has found the “recipe” for joy, whether full or hungry, hands full, or hands empty. He is a prisoner in a Roman jail (very unlike the amenities of the Chicago jail – if you have not seen the Chicago jail it is well-worth googling the institution).

If Paul was alive today (well, in reality he is!), this is how he might challenge us:

  • Contentment is not an economic quality but a spiritual attainment
  • Contentment is not a state of account but a state of heart
  • Contentment is found in making the most of the least
  • Contentment does not depend on what you have or where you are, but who you are
  • Contentment . . .  In a cemetery in England stands a grave marker with the inscription: She died for want of things. Alongside the marker of that frustrated woman stands her husband’s stone with the inscription: I died trying to give them to her.
  • Contentment is realizing that God has already given me everything I need for my present happiness
  • Contentment is understanding that if I am not satisfied with what I have, I will never be satisfied with what I want
  • Contentment is knowing that the more I release earthly possessions, the more I can grasp eternal treasures
  • Contentment is the power of getting out of any situation all there is in it

—G.K. Chesterton

It is a great blessing to possess what one wishes; it is greater still not to desire what one does not possess. –Ancient philosopher

Is this all not still true today? Where is your contentment? What does the depth of your heart call to you, and when will you get it under control of the Holy Spirit. It is your choice.

Paul: “I have learned by now to be quite content.”

Don’t sweat it . . .

Vol. 4, No. 12

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6

or,

Do not worry about anything, instead, pray about everything.

Worry is that growl in the pit of your stomach, those tense muscles in the back of your neck; the need for Ultra Strength Motrin in the middle of the night.

There was a jailbreak. Anxiety!! Along with the escapee came his cohorts and the anxiety that flooded the neighborhood because of their character of “crimes:” dread, fear, concern, and uneasiness. All this was on the prowl seeking to destroy and steal a very precious commodity, the personal sense of security.

When we worry, our minds become wrapped up in a problem. We turn the issue over and over, examine it from every angle, in the hope of coming up with a solution. When we do not find a quick answer, we double our emotional and mental energy; and become consumed by the dilemma.

The root idea for the word anxiety means to take responsibility. When I am anxious, I have assumed responsibility for what is happening in my life and assume I have to provide for my own needs.

Yet we are familiar with what Jesus said, Do not worry, for your heavenly Father knows your needs (Matthew 6:31-32). It is plain that the answer is not to be all wrapped up in my options, opinions, and schemes, but where my heart resides. I must bow my heart to the One who knows my needs. Mentally and in my heart, I have to make the jump that I do not have to step in and take over responsibility. I can leave it in His hands. He will provide!

If I will, mentally and emotionally leave it with Him, a great promise is offered. The peace of God will guard my heart and mind.

  • My heart is the seat of my emotions and feelings
  • My mind is the center of my thinking, my will, and of my decision-making

Like a squad of Marines, protecting the gates to the base, God, in Christ, guards my heart and my mind. With that kind of neighborhood watch plan, anxiety does not have a chance!

Who is guarding your heart and mind?

If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. –Philippians 4:7 NLT

Iron out your Differences

Iron out your differences . . . go to the Prince of Peace

Vol. 4, No. 11

I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. –Philippians 4:2

Someone needs to help these women iron out their differences and make up. Heavens! You would think that Christians could just get along.

Whoops! Some of us just looked in the mirror!

We give medals to Olympic winners; watches to faithful employees after 25 years of service; a Christmas bonus (or at minimum a turkey); even honeymooners might get a trip to Hawaii. (Donna and I didn’t get that trip.)

What should we give to Euodia (odious) and Syntyche (soon-touchy)? Two women (not ladies) in the Philippian church with a longstanding feud. Two women who allowed a personal grievance to disrupt, divide, and cause schism in the “assembly.”

Two flies in the ointment.

Solomon wrote, Dead flies will cause even a bottle of perfume to stink (Ecclesiastes 10:1).

My, oh my! Members in the same fellowship that will not kiss and make up. Now, it could as well have been two men.

I have met these folks; so have you.

Many a church division or split begins with two people who cannot iron out their differences. They need to shake hands, ask for forgiveness, and get-with-it. Unforgiveness is the poison we drink hoping the other person will die!

The unchurched and the unsaved know more about what is going on in your church than we often do!

This is Mickey Mouse stuff!! It is quarrelling over who should chair committees; dissension brewing over who heads the annual homecoming event; bearing grudges (that will soon explode) because a person gets more recognition than we get; or, bearing grudges because of someone having authority over you (or your Bible study class).

Perhaps one of these women had an exciting experience with the Holy Spirit and wants to brag about the attention; while the other is entrenched in the legalism of Calvin’s Institutes.

These are two sad-sacks, who were not spiritual infants, acting like spiritual infants. They were taking their dolls and going home! They were thought mature enough to labor alongside the church pastor in Gospel ministry. However, they could not, because they were focused on trifles. They were trained, but they set their training aside to attend to their grudges.

Yes, you have met these folks.

Paul hears about this “incorrigible” pair and their “irreconcilable” differences while he was in Rome. News travels. His reaction is like a dad with his children. It was not so much an over-the-knee spanking, tongue lashing, or public condemnation – it was a pleading, begging, and a lovingly beseeching. Be reconciled! He does not pamper or condescend to them. He deals with them.

Note what Paul said earlier:

Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself. –Philippians 2:2-3

Paul said what needed to be said to these two. He did not mince his words. Why do we?

This conversation is appropriate in the church; it is also appropriate in the family and the workplace. We might say we want peace, but we lack the movement to approaching the Prince of Peace – the only true place where peace is available.

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