Abounding in Christ (Philippians 4:10-23)
Every now and then it is good for us to take our eyes off of the trees and look at the forest. All too often we focus on the difficulty that is right in front of us and forget about the wealth of God’s blessing all around us. We would do well to look up once in a while. Look up from the pressures of work, the frustration of parenting, the stress of school, the pain of disease, the pile of bills, and the disappointment of bad decisions. Look up! And you will see that there is more to your life than the most pressing difficulty.
The Apostle Paul certainly knew about difficulty. When he wrote the letter to the church at Philippi, he was in prison for preaching the gospel and his most probable sentence would be execution. Yet, you wouldn’t be able to detect his dire circumstances from the substance of his letter. He writes an incredibly encouraging letter from a heart full of joy because he has learned to look up. Rather than focusing on how much he suffers in prison, Paul focuses on how much he abounds in Christ!
Abounding in Christ
I want to point out three encouraging themes.
1. The Fragrant Sacrifice of GENEROSITY (4:10, 14-20)
Why was their generosity “pleasing to God”?
a. Their generosity came from their heart
b. Their generosity supplied Paul’s need.
c. Their generosity was partnership in the gospel. (15)
d. Their generosity was a sacrifice to God. (18)
e. Their generosity will bear eternal fruit. (17)
f. Their generosity will bring the provision of God. (19)
2. The Secret Strength of CONTENTMENT (4:11-13)
Paul shows us four realities:
a. The SITUATION we face. (11-12)
Every person faces a variety of situations and circumstances. Every blessing is a grace of God and a glimpse of how things are supposed to be. Every burden is a result of sin and a reminder that this is not how things were supposed to be.
b. The SIN we fight. (11-12)
The sin that Paul exposes here is DISCONTENTMENT. Each situation, whether abundance or need, presents a temptation to sin. Need presents us the opportunity to murmur and fret. Abundance presents us the opportunity to be proud and self-sufficient. Discontentment is a sin of desire. We are not satisfied with what God has given us. We want something else, something more, something new. At the root, discontentment doesn’t believe that God has been good to us. God is holding back on us. This was Eve’s sin in the garden. This is Satan’s great lie.
c. The SECRET we learn. (12)
Contentment must be “learned.” “Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God's wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.” â€• Jeremiah Burroughs. Contentment glorifies God because “GOD IS ENOUGH.”
d. The STRENGTH we receive. (13)
The strength to be content is NOT within ourselves. The strength to be content is given to us by Christ. The strength to be content is the strength to be pleased with all that God does.
3. The Affectionate Greeting of SAINTS (4:21-23)
Paul closes his letter with several notes of encouragement.
a. This closing communicates the deep affection that Paul has for them.
b. This closing reminds them that they are “saints."
c. This closing assures them they have brothers and partners in the gospel.
d. This closing encourages them that the gospel continues to advance.
e. This benediction leaves them, and us, in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ which is the only hope for our soul.