Judge Not Part 4 – The Necessity of Contentment

Judge Not Part 4 – The Necessity of Contentment

The contented heart is a humble heart. How is it constantly content? The attitudes that both build and are the attributes of a contented heart are developed in our godly character as we cooperate with God in our sanctification. It is by His grace that we can learn to be content in both low and high situations. Notice also that the contented heart is also humble. Paul’s concern is for those who were seeking to help him. He wanted them to be edified and for God to be glorified in them. 

10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived thinking about me; indeed, you were thinking about me before, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak from want, for I learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in abundance; in any and all things I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:10-13 (LSB)

As I write this it is Labor Day, 2022. I turned 70 years old in October 2021 and officially retired December 24, 2021. Man has everything changed from a year ago. A year ago this week I was working on my book Complete in Christ which is a commentary of Paul’s epistle to the Colossians. My good friend Stuart helped publish it on Amazon and it is available there. However, since I retired things have changed in our lives drastically. My son, who is a physician, had my wife and I up to visit him over the Thanksgiving holiday in November. He had been concerned for quite some time that I had had a stroke that inhibited my ability to speak clearly when under pressure. I suspected something was wrong because this happened to me at the worst possible times such as when teaching a Bile Study. In any case, Thanksgiving Day, one of his physician friends sat next to me at his dining room table while we waited for the turkey to finish cooking and she kept asking me some very strange diagnostic questions. Later, my son told me she was just seeing what my response was to “pressure.” He told me that he still suspected that I had had a small stroke at some time. Well, in March of this year I was sitting here at my desk doing research and suddenly felt my brain go numb. How do you describe something like that? I just sat in my chair and waited for normalcy to come back. Eventually, I felt better, but when I tried to stand up it was like my arms and legs were rubber bands. Eventually, I made it to bed. The next day my wife and I worked on our flower bed retaining wall. I drove over to Home Depot with her to get the blocks and sand. I missed several turns both going there and coming home. The next day, I collapsed in the hallway, running into the wall. My wife and daughter called 911 and I ended up in the hospital. They said I had had a stroke.

Since then I have been in therapy. I have to work on brain skills like word searches, problem solving, etc. I am wearing an implanted heart monitor and now sleep with a C-PAP machine. Yes things have changed, but I am now driving again and some of my therapists want to discharge me. God is taking me through a different route in my prayer life and much of what He is teaching me revolves around remaining humble and content.

Contentment is a word that most of us see as short-lived “happiness” or “satisfaction” feelings because of favorable circumstances. If we get a new car, pickup, or computer then we are excited and proud. We want everyone to see us with our new possession. Of course, this type of behavior is clearly pride-based. These feelings of satisfaction from possessing something or someone are exactly what our wicked pride controlled hearts are after. If we deny our fleshly desires to focus on God and our relationship with Him our “OLD MAN” sin nature does not like it one bit. It never wants our hearts to move away from fleshly pursuits. However, walking in the spirit, walking by faith, running the race God has set before us, and abiding in Christ all require this. The Spirit-led believer walks through each day practicing the presence of God rather than seeking self-gratification from fleshly focus. The Spirit-led believer who has matured into the late Adult Christian stage of development or into the Mature Christian stage has learned that attempts at fulfillment from any source other than God is complete waste of time. Nothing temporal fulfills. However, when God blesses believers with “stuff,” but they focus on the blessor rather than the blessing, God will give them a wonderful sense of contentment. Look at the passage I placed at the beginning of this chapter. It is an excerpt from the Apostle Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians. It is a wonderful book on remaining joyful, content, and Christlike no matter what our circumstances are like.

Paul wrote Philippians when he was in his first imprisonment in Rome. During his first imprisonment, Paul was not in a dungeon. He was in chains, but lived with his guards in rented quarters. (Acts 28) Paul planted the church at Philippi during his second missionary journey. It was the first European church. During that period, Paul and Silas were imprisoned in the local jail for casting a demon out of a slave girl who was used by her owners for profit through her fortune telling. (Acts 16) Let’s dig into this wonderful book. Perhaps we will learn Paul’s secret of contentment.

The first passage we will look at is Philippians 1:12-30. Here is the entire passage. Read it through.

12 Now I want you to know, brothers, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, 13 so that my chains in Christ have become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, 14 and that most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord because of my chains, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear. 15 Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; 16 the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; 17 the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me affliction in my chains. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in this I rejoice.
Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that THIS WILL TURN OUT FOR MY SALVATION through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.
21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know what I will choose. 23 But I am hard-pressed between the two, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better, 24 yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. 25 And convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that your reason for boasting may abound in Christ Jesus in me, through my coming to you again.
27 Only live your lives in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear about your circumstances, that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind contending together for the faith of the gospel, 28……. Philippians 1:12-30 (LSB)

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