Philippians 4:10-23

Read Philippians 4:10-23
I love the movie “The Princess Bride”. My favorite character is Vizzini. He is the character that thinks he is smart because he has surrounded himself with folks who he thinks are not as smart as him. Ironically, they are pretty smart. Throughout the movie he uses the word ‘inconceivable’ over and over, and one of his henchmen finally calls him on it and says, ‘You keep using that word, I don’t think it means what you think it means.’ Our passage is exactly that. ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’, is often misused.

Contentment is an elusive thing in our culture. Culture tells us we should not be content. I need a new house, new car, new bike, new phone, new patio, new deck, new furniture, all teaching us to be discontent. Discontentment can be holy, if it relates to sin in your life, but that’s not what I am talking about. Sinful discontentment is a surface sin, it’s an expression of deeper root issues in our lives. Sinful expressions typically fall into one of three sins: comfort, control, or significance. I’ll use myself as an example, I like to work on my house. I like to fix things and make things new. This can be a good thing, but oftentimes sin finds expression as I compare what I have with my neighbors or friends. Sometimes I think in my mind, 'I should build that patio in my back yard', or 'I like that shed, I should build one, too'. While the sin is comparing and envy, there’s a deeper root of my sin, it’s the sin of significance. If I am not vigilant, I can find my significance in my accomplishments or achievements. Thinking that because I built that, I remodeled that, I created that, I am worthy. Creating things, renewing things, building things are not inherently wrong, but when I lose contentment in what I have been given to take care of in this world, my significance becomes found in my achievements and not the achievements of Christ in my life.

If we look at the context of Philippians 4:13, Paul is reminding the church that he has been imprisoned (not for the first time either) and he has learned how to suffer for their sake. He has been able to gain an audience with the Emperor where he pleaded the validity of Jesus Christ. Philippians 4:13 is not about achieving my personal record in exercise or being able to run a marathon or even working through a really hard thing in my life. It’s about finding contentment. Our motivation isn’t found in personal achievement, it’s found in the achievement of Jesus Christ, whose ‘achievement’ on the cross pulled me from my sin, took me from the path of death and hell, and pointed me toward a better way to live.

Questions for reflection:
  1. Why is contentment difficult? 
  2. Is it even possible to find contentment in our culture? If so, how? 
  3. What are some things that make you discontent? Do they fall under the category of holy discontent? If not, how can you give them to God?
David Flug | Community Life Pastor

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