To Be Content
Being content means turn your life over to God. Live your life for God.
Alright, thank you very much, and hello again dear radio friends. How in the world are you? Aren’t you glad you can be in the world but not of it? That’s the basis of the little greeting that marks these broadcasts, and this is your friend, Dr. Cook, and I’m glad, so glad and grateful for the privilege of being back with you once again. I look forward to these times together, don’t you? Sharing from God’s Word does something to satisfy my own heart’s hunger and I think maybe that’s why I’m so grateful to the Lord for giving me these opportunities to share with you.
We’ve been hitting the high spots in Philippians, just as a break in between our study of the book of Mark, and we’re in chapter 4. We’ll soon finish it up then we’ll go back to Mark again, beginning with chapter 10.
He says, “Not that I speak in respect of want for I have learned in whatsoever state”, that means condition, “I am therewith”, to be content, “I know both how to be abased and I know how to abound, everywhere and in all things I’m instructed, both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need, I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me”. Now, you look at the life of the apostle Paul and see what he’s saying here. I’ve learned to be content. I had, I know how to be abased or to abound. I am instructed, both to be full or to suffer need.
Does this give you any kind of a clue as to how God deals with you and with me? I I think it may if we just stop to think about it for a moment. He says, “I have learned”. I have learned, I’ve been taught, as a as a child is taught and then he says, “I know how”, and then he says, “I can”. Think about that in your own, in your own life. Do you have a process, beloved, of learning in your life? Well, I think that’s important, really I do. To know, to learn, to be instructed, to be led, to be discipled by the blessed, indwelling Holy Spirit in your reactions to everyday living.
I think what I’m trying to tell you is this – successful Christian living depends not only upon the fact that at one given point in your life, sister you opened by faith your heart to the Lord Jesus Christ, made Him, by faith your Lord and your Savior and thus you became a born again child of your heavenly father. This is all important. This is where it begins doesn’t it? But, like a little new baby there so many things to learn and the process of being a successful Christian does depend on learning. Now, where does it start? Verse 11, “I have learned in whatsoever state”, that means condition, “I am therewith to be content”. What is it to be content? Does it mean just sit around and do nothing? No.
You’re living in a, in a house and the house’s upset. The children and grandchildren have been there for a visit. Everything is out of its place. The toys and, and papers and magazines have been strewn around as the baby played with different things, and then left them, and you’re sitting in a rocking chair the morning after, tired and looking at the house. Now, what does it mean to be content? Does it mean just sit there and let all at stuff lie. No. Not if you’re anything like my good Norwegian wife, Coreen, you’ll get up and get at it, won’t you? And say, “This place needs straightening up”, and the dust will begin to fly and things will be put straight, put away. So contentment doesn’t mean sitting around does it? Well, what does it mean?
Well, you and I most of us have long since learned that you ought to change the things that can be changed, but accept the things that can’t be changed, and with it all live in the knowledge that God’s overarching plan is perfect. “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, thoughts of good and not of evil”, God says, “to give you a desired end”. Commit thy way unto the Lord and He shall bring it to pass. “In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths”. So this matter of being content is a blessed combination of doing what you can do and trusting your blessed Lord for His overarching, over writing, eternal plan for your life. “In whatsoever state”, that is condition that means, “I am therewith to be content”.
Contentment. Live your life for God, do all you can for God, take what you get from God, and give all the glory to God there’s the formula I have learned. Have you learned contentment? This is not something that, that somebody else can preach into you. My words this very occasion, now, are not going to make you content unless you take that step of commitment to your blessed Lord, to learn contentment. What is it? To place all of your life in the control of the blessed Spirit of God, who in dwells the believer, while doing all you can to obey God, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might”, the Bible says, “Seeist thy man diligent in his business, he shall stand before kings”, said the wise man. So, to doing your duty, do the best you can, within the framework of your own responsibility, is part of the formula of being content. You will never be content unless you have combined doing your best with accepting God’s best.
You want to think about that for a moment? That’s a mouthful, isn’t it? Do your best and accept God’s best. “I’ve learned”, he said, “to be content”. How does that work out? Well, it works out in some extremes of, of human experience. I know how to be abased. Now, that’s no fun, you know that? To be snubbed when you thought you might be a member the committee, not to be put on it, or when you thought you might be asked to be chairman of the committee, to be passed by in favor of some dear, dedicated clod who doesn’t know anything. Oh, to be abased, or to be the, the object of somebody’s criticism, They’re criticizing you unjustly because they don’t understand the situation in which you find yourself, or you’ve come to the kind of a dead-end street in your, your job or your career, and other people seem be forging ahead and you don’t seem to making any progress. To be abased. Or you’re living in a domestic situation where the other person or persons routinely put you down and you’re constantly told you don’t amount anything.
I summoned my courage one day to the point where I could ask my father very sensitive question. I said, “Pop, you always seem to be trying to prove something”, I said, “Why is that”? He thought a moment, he said, “Well, my boy”, he said, “I guess it’s because I grew up in a, in a home where people were constantly telling me, ‘Charlie you’ll never amount to anything’”. Well, he was a laboring man all his life. He had been denied the formal education in terms of high school or college, he was self-educated, read many books, most of all his Bible, but as I look back on that good man’s life, he died in 1954, so that’s a good many years ago now, but his memory is still fresh in my mind because I lived under his care for so many years. As I look back on his life, he achieved something. He learned how to cope with the abasement of other people in his direction. That’s a hard lesson to learn, because most of us have a pretty healthy ego, don’t we? We like for people to tell us that we did Alright. We like for people to tell us that we’ve, we’ve done a fine job on something, like to be complemented, like to be recognized.
One of the things I always do with if I’m leading a meeting is to look around the crowd and see who there is, who ought to be mentioned as being of some importance, to be recognized in other words, and I do this not cynically, I do it because it represents a need that people have, and if you honor your blessed Lord while you’re recognizing people in a meeting, I think it has a beneficial effect on the meeting itself. Through the year, sometimes as I’m preaching in a crowd that I know, I’ll, I’ll talk personally to one person for a while in my preaching, to recognize people. It’s very important, but one that is lacking and you, you aren’t recognizing you are snubbed and maybe you are criticized or even lied about, then what? He says, “I know how to be abased”, I can take it. Why? Because God is running things, not people. I’m in God’s hands, not in the hands of human beings, after all. And then he says,” I know how to abound”. If things go well. If I am recognized, if I do have a raise in my salary, if things are going well in my family, if everything seems to be happy in all, and everything’s as they say, coming up roses, he says, I can handle that too. Why? Because I know it’s not my doing, it’s God’s. I’m in His hands.
See, that, that’s what he’s leading up to verse 13, “I can do all things through Christ”. You can stand criticism and abasement or you can, you can cope with prosperity and success which sometimes goes to people’s heads and spoils them. You can stand either extreme, if you’re in the hands of your blessed, wonderful Lord Jesus. It’s a great lesson to learn, isn’t it? He said, “I learned, I learned to be content”, and being content means turn your life over to God. Live your life for God.
Take what you get for God. Do all you can for God and leave the rest to God. Contentment.
Dear Father today, teach us how to cope, either with criticism or success, because Thou art in control, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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