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Learning Contentment

By Pastor Marcus Brown

Table of Contents

Today we’re in Philippians 4. 


In chapter one Paul starts by thanking them for sending him something while he was in prison. From there, really the Holy Spirit goes on a trail. 


When you get older, sometimes you can go on a rabbit trail for a little bit. I know people like this. They send you a text, and it’s too long. They send you an email and it’s like a podcast. If you send me a text that’s long, I’m not reading it. I had somebody walk up to me and say, “Marcus, I got to tell you one thing, but for you to understand this one thing I need to talk to you a while, so you get the context of this one thing.”


I say, “Stop right there. I’m pretty sharp. Tell me the one thing and if I need you to yah-yah-yah-ah, I’ll ask you to.” You know what I’m saying? Just tell me because I don’t have time for that. Paul is Paul-Paul-Paul right now. And he has been talking. He started in chapter one. Then he goes chapter two. He gets into joy. He gets into spiritual disciplines. He comes back in chapter four, and he’s going to teach you how to slay the sin that Adam and Eve could not slay in the garden. 


This sin of being discontent is the root of addiction, it’s the root of envy, it’s the root of lust, and if you can slay it, and slay it in your house, you’re going to walk in freedom. It’s the root to all greed. But this passage applied, if you walk in it, you will be free and free indeed. You’ll have clarity and purpose and generosity, but this is not easy. 


This is the thing about Philippians. It sounds like it’s a chocolate shake, but it tastes like kale when you apply it, right? This sounds so good to read it, but then, when I apply it, I’m going to need the Holy Spirit’s help. This passage has two of the top ten verses memorized in the entire Bible. Two of them! And they are almost always taken out of context. 


Two of these verses have helped me in the hardest season of my life. 


I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 


I’m not saying this because I’m in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. Whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want, I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.—Philippians 4:10-13


One old sage said it like this, “This is the rare jewel of Christianity. Only a few believers will ever access this jewel and put it into their heart, but those who do will walk in freedom the rest of their life.” 


This is not a message that shallow Christians can get. If you want to live in the kiddie pool of Christianity, it’s warm there, but you’re not going to get this jewel. This is how Adam and Eve got twisted. They get to the Garden of Eden, Satan shows them the one tree God said “Don’t eat from that tree. Don’t do it.” There’s a whole process, we’ve taught on this before. The Bible says that Eve saw that the tree was good. Then she, she saw it. So where was it at? Her thoughts.


The Bible says she desired it. It went from her thoughts to her heart. So she took it and she ate it. This is the process to every sin that happens in your life. You don’t just trip up into sin. You see it, you want it, and you do it.


So I said, “I don’t know what happened. I fell into sin.” Now, nobody falls into sin. All right, you didn’t just like trip and went, “Oh, I’m in sin.” This is what happens. You saw it, you wanted it, and you did it. It goes from thoughts, desires, to actions. It went, God has given me all of this, but the one thing he says I can’t have. 


Do you know what they did? They began to compare what God had given them to the things that they didn’t have and that comparison killed them. That’s why you better be careful if you’re on social media because it is a comparison club. I look over there, there’s so many perfect marriages. Every marriage is perfect on social media.


On Facebook, every vacation is perfect. And you can compare what you have to what someone else is doing. While you’re working, someone else is always at the beach, and I hate it. And you can be at Arby’s and you can be eating. What do you eat at Arby’s? Curly fries. You can be having curly fries and that roast beef sandwich, and you get on social media and somebody’s at Ruth’s Chris, and you just wanna throw it down, because it will compare. You see it, want it, do it.


I used to be almost a professional softball player in my mind. It was the church league. And one day this, this new bat came out. Synergy. So I gotta have that Synergy bat because the tagline was you can hit the ball 50 more feet with the Synergy bat.


I’m like, “That’s all I need! I’m coming up 50 feet short! I need a Synergy bat.” I was online looking at Synergy bats. If I had a Synergy bat, I could I could no tell I could be a professional softball player in my old age! So Brook is asleep. I’m looking at a Synergy bat, and I just thought, “You know what? I want that bat. I don’t just want that bat. I need that bat. And I don’t need that bat. I’m the man in this house. I deserve that bat!” 


She’s just over there sleeping like an angel. I’m like, ”Who is she to tell me not to get this bat?” You know? And I bought the bat, and I remember I took it out of the wrapper, went to the ballpark, and a new bat came out called “The Freak,” banned in 26 countries. I mean a bat. I mean, it was black with a skull on it, where somebody got killed. And I looked at that bat. It looked like a Viking made that bat. You know what I’m saying? It was just a man’s bat, and my, my, my bat looks feminine against this bat! 


And this is the whole principle. Listen to me. The things of this world will rust, rot, and destroy; and your contentment with the things of this world will go from contentment to discontent, and your soul will never find rest until it finds rest in the things of God. You’ve got to get this, otherwise, your whole life, you’re going to be striving for the next thing that gives you more joy, the next thing in this world that gives you more peace, the next thing in this world that gives you more security, that gives you more confidence. And nothing in this world can last. 


To be content means to be fully satisfied. 


I’m fully satisfied. I can relax. I don’t have to need everything in this world to feel important. Here’s what it really means to be content.


It means I have discovered that Jesus is enough. 


We gotta get this. I have discovered that Jesus is enough. If the source of my contentment is subject to change, I’ll never truly have contentment. There’s one thing that’s never going to change, and it’s how much God loves you. And it’s how much He wants to be your source. 


So Paul gives us some principles. Matter of fact, all of chapter four is about these principles. If you’re going to grab this rare jewel, you’re going to lodge it in your heart, and it’s going to live there. 

  •  I must renew concern for others. 


I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last, You have renewed…


I’m telling you, when I read this last week, this jumped off the pages at me and I felt the Lord say, “I want you to stop right here and teach the people.”


…you’ve renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.


They renewed it. Concern has ebbs and flows to it. You can have a lot of concern for people one day, and 90 days later, you have little concern for them. They apparently had concern for Paul at one time, and then, living life, guess what happened? Their concern for the Apostle Paul dwindled to almost nothing. This is the only time this Greek word is used in the entire Bible. And right here in the Bible, it’s a nature term. If you have an ESV, it says it better: “You revived.” Write that down. It’s almost like you resuscitated. This is what he meant.


In the Greek, it meant you had concern, and it dried up like a dying plant. But you began to nurture it, water it, and it’s blooming again into generosity. Concern is something you’ve got to renew for people in your life. Otherwise, it’s out of sight, out of mind. I’ve got family like this right now, and I’m going, “God, wait, I haven’t been thinking about them. I know I need to be loving. For some reason, they’re not on the top shelf of my heart. God, what do I do?” 


This is what you do. Renew your concern. Listen, Paul is one of the most important people in the whole New Testament. And people lost concern for him. There’s Jesus, Paul, Peter, John the Baptist, and Paul is in prison. 


Now you would think that the man who is starting churches all over the world, prayed for a dude that fell out of a window, hit the ground, died, Paul prayed for him, he lived again. You would think that would be unforgettable, right? Like, he’s healed the sick, there were people that just wanted to just touch his clothing, like they did Jesus. Paul is a central figure, God is powerfully moving in Paul’s life, and he’s like, “Thank you for renewing your concern.” 


I’m going to tell you, as a dad, I have forgotten all of my kids. All of them. Throughout their whole life. I never even got better. It’s not like I learned my lesson. I have forgotten them at infant stage! I forgot Ashlyn at the house. I went to work. And then one of the assistants came in and said, “Hey, you got your daughter today. How’s she doing?” I’m like, “She’s doing great! I’m going to go back home and get her.” You know? All right. And. Go back, I’ve forgotten Ainsley, I’ve forgotten Austin. I mean, throughout their whole life. I mean, I’ve left them at church, I’ve left them on ball fields, I’ve left them on vacation. I’ve left them everywhere, right? I mean, even when we moved here, we were headed to the lake. Ashton’s a grown woman, and I left her at the gas station. Pulled off! I mean, our kids were in the back. They were going, “Where’s Ashton?”


I’m like, Oh, I forgot her again. And turned back around. She had already put it on Instagram. Told on me! I told her, “You got to cover a preacher, baby.” She’s just sitting out front, got it just splattered: “Dad just left me again.” And every time, you know what happens when they get left? They go, “How could you forget about me?”


I’m going to tell you, that when there are people in our lives, it’s easy to forget about them. When we are busy and focused on our life, that’s just the truth. I want to clarify something to set you free. You can’t be concerned about everybody and everything, okay? Some of you feel guilty because you want to carry the weight of the world, every concern, you pray about everything. You’re trying to save everybody. Those of you who are bent that way, I want you to write this down. I’m not the savior. Jesus is. 


You’re not to be a savior. Jesus is a savior for everybody. But God has given you people in your life that you’re in covenant with. Renew your concern for them. Some of those people are lost and drifting further away. Some of them are up close to you, and they’re saying, “I need you.” They’re doing stupid things to get your attention. You’re like, “Will they quit being stupid?” No, you need to renew your concern and focus. 


I believe there’s two forms of betrayal. One is direct. And there’s many of you who have been directly betrayed. Somebody stabbed you in the back. They slandered you, and they hurt you on purpose. But indirect betrayal is, you got forgotten. You’re suffering, and then the people who said they were going to love you are the people that you were dependent on forgot you. And Paul goes, “I’m thankful that you renewed your concern for me.”


Listen to me, it’s not that you had concern and you lost it, because you don’t lose concern. You trade it. This is what you do. You stop being concerned in others and you start being more concerned about yourself. The less you are concerned about you, the more you’ll be concerned about the people in your life who need you.


The more you’re concerned about you, listen, this is going to be the root to some of your anxiety and depression. You are hyper-focused on yourself. And I’m telling you, I can be so self-aware. I’ll get a headache, I’ll walk in, I’ll say, “, tBabe. This is the worst headache I have ever had,” and I don’t know why I tell her this every time.


“Oh!” she goes, “It’s the worst one?” She’s like, “In all the years we’ve been married.” I’m saying, “Baby, it’s worse. It’s this headache. Matter of fact, right now, it’s turning into a migraine. It went from headache to migraine. And do you know that migraines are worse than labor pains? They are worse than having a baby.” She’s like, “Where’d you read it?”


I said, “It was a message board on the sports thing. Migraines are just horrible.” I’m like, “Babe, this is actually worse than a migraine. I think I need a brain scan.” 


Do you see how you can just go boom, boom? When you get hyper-focused, you bring the worst out of yourself. When you get others focused, God will bring vision out of you. 


When you get hyper-focused on yourself, all you’re going to get is selfishness, especially with men. Men who focus on themselves have no joy. They gripe and complain about everything. Because God has wired men like the Son of God was wired. What was his mission statement? 


I came as one who serves.


I came to earth to serve other people. You watch a man who’s only concerned with his career, his hobbies, he sits all day, he bickers, and he has no joy in his life. But you watch a man who putters around serving other people? He’s got the joy of the Lord, and it went from down in his soul—(Cause some of y’all got joy down in your soul. It’s too far down!)—and it comes bubbling all the way up. You know God is working on you with this all the time. All the time. God’s at work. 


How many of you are driving down the road and somebody will pop into your mind? Just raise your hand. Let’s all see. Okay. All right. Now, let me ask you a question I want y’all to all answer it. Could that possibly be the Holy Spirit? Let’s just ask a general question. Could it possibly be the Holy Spirit? Yes or no? Yeah. Okay. All right. All right. Is it probable that it’s the Holy Spirit?


Yes or no? Yeah. I think right now it’s like 75 percent of the time for me. Somebody pops into my mind, and then I’ll text him or call him and he’ll just say, “Thank you, I needed that.” 


Now God is wanting to do what? God is wanting to reach that person, but God is wanting to reach you too. Because this is how you slay that original sin in the Garden of Eden. Like, he is saying, “Get your eyes off yourself, your thoughts off yourself. Let me help you.” Pop! “Here’s somebody to think about. Here’s somebody to pray for. Here’s somebody to reach out to.” And, this is what Paul said. Now let me go back. In chapter four, he said, 


I rejoice greatly in the Lord, that at last you renewed your concern for me.


You know, watch this. He said, 


Indeed you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 


Missouri is the show-me state, right? But when it comes to concern, it can’t be internal. Internal concern. Oh, I’m so concerned about them. What’d you do? Nothing. Alright, internal concern is as dead as no concern. 


Internal concern is as dead as no concern. He said, 


you had an opportunity and you showed it. 


God, pops somebody into your mind and you go, “God, I’m going to pray for them. Could you give me an opportunity to show some kindness to them?” Cause the Philippian church sent a care package, and they gave Paul some clothing, some food, and some writing materials, and he said, “You amply supplied my needs, and now God’s going to bless you because of that.”

  • Learn the secret. 


I’m not saying this because I’m in need. For I have learned to be content. 


Would you underline that in your Bible? Everybody say, “Learned to be content.” Let me just stop right here. This does not come natural. No one was born with this maturity in them.


The Apostle Paul said, “I had to learn,” this is what it meant, “I had to get discipled into contentment. I had to learn it.” How do you learn it? 


Well, selfishness comes prepackaged. How many of you had to teach your kid to say, “Mine”? Say mine. No it didn’t, it just came out with a whine. They had the tone and everything.


Some of you thought they were saying, “Mama!” You said, “Look at them, they’re saying ‘Mama!’” “No, they’re saying ‘mine. Mine!’” “They’re saying ‘Mama.’” “No, they ain’t saying ‘Mama.’ They’re saying ‘mine.’” 


You didn’t have to teach your kids selfishness. It’s part of their DNA. It’s part of their sinful nature You have to learn contentment. It’s something you’re discipled in. And this is what he said it is. He said, “You learn it.” He’s going to say it again. Watch what he says. He says it this way: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need. And I know what it is to have plenty.”


He’s like, “I’ve been in both scenarios.” How many of y’all have had plenty of food, shelter, clothing? How many of y’all have had lack before? You’re behind the eight ball. He’s like, “I’ve been in both areas in my life,” and watch what he says, “I have learned the secret of contentment.” 


Secret. So he said, ”This is what I want you to know church. I’ve got a secret. I want you to lean in right now.” And they go, “What is the secret?” “The secret is your relationship with Jesus. The more you want things in the world, it’s because the less you’re having fellowship with Christ. And the less that you want the things of the world, it’s because you’ve had more of fellowship with Jesus.”


And this is what he is saying, and he’s going to land on this: “I’ve learned the secret to be content. Let me show you the secret.” You go, “That’s a broad statement. So what is the secret? Three things:


You’ve got to be thanking, thinking, and loving. 


You verbally tell God what you’re thankful for. Alright, now we’re going to do this exercise. We do this every single week in our staff meeting. We have worship and then I tell the staff, “Stand up and tell us something God’s doing good.” You ready? So this is what I want you to do.


Turn to a neighbor and tell them one thing you’re thankful for. You got ten seconds. You ready? You got to exercise. You ready? Ten seconds. Tell your neighbor one thing you’re thankful for God for. Tell them. Find somebody. Tell them what you’re thankful for. 


All right, come back to me. You gotta learn this muscle. This is what he’s saying. I’m going to read this to you. Let me go back to Philippians chapter 4 and I’m going to read you verse 6. He says, 


Let your gentleness be evident that all the Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, …


Did you know that praying without thankfulness can increase your anxiety because you’re praying about your problems? This is why I tell the staff, “I want you to stand up and tell me three things you’re thankful about.”


There’s a way that you pray with thanksgiving: “God, you’ve already done some great things in my life. And I’m going to tell you that I’m thankful about this and this.” So we started doing a case study. By the cross, every week, people put down what they’re thankful for. They write down their thanks. I started noticing those who are writing down anxiety, depression, anger, and emotional things going on in their lives. When I flipped the card, what’s on the back side of the card where you write what you’re thankful for? They’re not filling out anything on that side of the card. They’re not writing down what they’re thankful for. The people who are praying for souls are writing down what they’re thankful for. This is a spiritual secret. Thanking, controlling my thinking and controlling my loving


  • Relax in Christ’s strength. 


Philippians 4:13 says, 


I can do everything through Him who gives me strength. 


He goes, “No matter what the situation is, if I have a lot that is going on that’s wrong or a lot that’s going on that’s right, no matter the circumstance…” 


Okay? This isn’t a Scripture to quote so you can hit a home run, alright?


He’s like, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” This is what he’s saying: “In every situation, I don’t have to wait for the situation to change for that life to be good. I can do all All things, through Christ, who gives me strength.” 


So, this is where it’s got to get personal for you because this is something you’ve got to apply. What are the circumstances going on in your life and in your family right now? 


Because when Paul was writing to the Philippian church, he was, he was telling them this. “I’ve got some truth to give you, but you’re going to have to put this into practice.” He was like, “and if you put this into practice, you’re going to get to verse 19.” 


Here’s verse 19. 


My God will supply all your needs according to his riches and glory in Christ Jesus. 


Pray: Father, we love you. We thank you for your word. We thank you that it is forever settled in heaven right now. We can relax in the strength of Jesus. 


There are some of you when I’m praying for you this morning, I just felt like you have “when and then” thinking. Like, “When this changes in my life, Then I’m going to have more joy.” That’s the way the, the world thinks. What is that circumstance? “Well, I’m single. I want to get married. When I get married, life is going to be better.”


Life can be better right now because Christ is enough. 


When I have financial pressure right now, when I don’t have financial pressure, then life’s going to be better.” Or, “My health is a certain way. When I get stronger, life’s going to get better.” “I want to get pregnant, but I’m not getting pregnant.” And when I get out of this waiting room of the things that I desire in my life, then,” 


This is what he’s saying, “Christ is enough.”


He’s like, “I’ve learned this secret. That you don’t have to have every answer you want in life to have a great life. You need the nearness of Jesus in your life.” 


I’m waiting on someone I love to turn their heart to Christ. I’m waiting on an open door. I’ve got some dreams, could be ministry, could be a home, whatever it is. You just go, 


“Lord, you are enough right now, in Jesus name.”

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