Philippians 4:11, 13, and 19 each read:

"I have learned to be content in whatever circumstance I am." (Phil. 4:11.)

"I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." (Phil. 4:13.)

"My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:19.)

All of this in Paul's closing words; he's closing it down, and we get this. All three of these words focus in on one theme, the theme of contentment, and that's what we're going to be looking at together.

Paul in this passage is doing three things simultaneously.

First of all, he's saying thank you, and we know how genuine he is about this because he started this letter all the way back in chapter 1, verse 5, saying thank you to the Philippians for their generosity. In fact, we said that Paul is almost embarrassed that the Philippians have been so generous with him. He genuinely wants to thank them.

But the second thing he wants to make sure that the Philippians don't misunderstand is he's not asking them to send some more. The Apostle Paul wants to make it clear: "That's not what I'm doing. I'm not lavishly thanking you so that you'll send me more. What you've sent is more than enough."

But along with this, Paul wants to do a third thing in Philippians 4:10-20. He wants to teach the Philippians something vitally important about the Christian life. It is a lesson that Paul has learned and it's a lesson that he wants the Philippians to learn, and that they especially need to learn because of their poverty. It is a lesson about contentment.

And in this passage he teaches us five things about gospel contentment. He teaches us about the need for contentment, about the nature of contentment, about the secret of contentment, about the song of contentment, and about the gratefulness of contentment, and I want to look at those five things with you today.

God Wants His People to be Content

The first thing is the need for contentment. Paul is concerned that Christians understand that God wants them to be content. God desires His people to live in a state of contentment, and so Paul is first, in verse 11, going to speak of the need for and the importance of gospel contentment. Read what he says (verse 11): "Not that I am speaking of need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content." He is commending to the Philippians his state of contentment, and he is saying to them that he wants them to be content; that God wants them to live in a state of contentment. In other words, Paul is saying here Christians are to be content - and Paul talks about this all the time.

II. The Nature of Contentment

Read what he says at the end of verse 11: "For I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content."

There are three encouragements in verse 11 for you with regard to contentment. The first encouragement is this: Paul had to learn how to be content! If we are not living in a state of contentment, join the club! Paul had to learn contentment!

The second encouragement is this: Contentment is not innate to Christian experience, it is learned. If you're struggling with contentment, that's incredibly encouraging.

But here's what I want you to see, maybe more than anything else. It's the third encouragement: You are more apt to seek and find real gospel contentment when you sense your lack of it than you are to seek and find real gospel contentment when your circumstances are providing you a greater measure of contentment.

If you're reading this thinking, "Yes, I am deeply discontent," I've got good news for you. You are more likely to seek real contentment and find it than someone who is content in his or her circumstances.

III. The Secret of Contentment.

Read what Paul says in v.11-13:

"For I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need."

So what has he told you so far? He's telling you that his contentment does not come from his circumstances; that they do not contribute to or detract from the gospel contentment that he enjoys. That's still not the secret. That sets you up to hear the secret, but it's still not the secret. He's just telling you, "The kind of contentment I'm talking about is not from circumstances."

Contentment, gospel contentment, real contentment comes from someplace else. Where? He tells you in verse 13: "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."

In other words, the secret of contentment is God's providence apprehended by your soul. It is the God of providence embraced by your soul so that you believe it. Gospel contentment rests on a deep personal doctrinal experiential embrace of God's providence.

The secret of contentment is a deep, personal, doctrinal, and experiential embrace of God's providence.

IV. The Song of Contentment

Contentment has a theme song, and the lyrics are written down in verse 19. Here's the theme song of contentment:

"My God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus."

And until the truth of God's providence has worked deep down into our hearts so that is the reflex reaction the minute that we're in any difficult circumstances of life, we haven't yet apprehended the secret of contentment in the way that we need to.

V. Contentment is Grateful

Now there's one last thing: Contentment is grateful. There is a gratefulness in contentment, and you see it in the doxology that Paul sings in verse 20:

"To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen."

Contentment expresses itself in constant gratitude to God. God-glorifying gratefulness flows from the heart of the one who is content. You want to see a content person, I'll show you a grateful person. Put them in the worst circumstance of life, they'll still praise God. Why? Because He has supplied all their needs and they know it. And they know that nobody else in the world can take away what He has supplied. The world can take everything else away, but they cannot take what He has supplied. And so they're grateful.

Now let me make it clear. You may be a Christian who is discontent. That's okay, and that's not okay. It's not okay because God wants you to live in contentment. It's okay because you're at the starting block if you're there. If you're content in circumstances, you're not even in the game yet. But if you're a Christian and you're discontent, there is really good news waiting for you. Pick up the Bible and start working through it and find the there the God of contentment.