The Christ-centered Life

The text for the sermon which Pastor Chris Gordon preached this morning at the Lynden United Reformed Church was Philippians 4:10-13:

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am 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. (Emphasis added.)

One point that Rev. Gordon made was that Paul had to learn contentment, since contentment doesn’t come naturally. We, like Paul, must exercise diligence to understand what biblical contentment really is. It is so out of the ordinary that Paul speaks of contentment as “a secret”:

I know how to be abased, and I know also how to abound: in everything and in all things have I learned the secret both to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in want. (Emphasis added.)
American Standard Version 1901

First, the Pastor pointed out some things that are commonly mistaken for Christian contentment:

  1. Contentment is not STOICISM. The Literature Dictionary, published by Houghten Mifflin Company defines stoicism as follows:
    A philosophy that flourished in ancient Greece and Rome. Stoics believed that people should strictly restrain their emotions in order to attain happiness and wisdom; hence, they refused to demonstrate either joy or sorrow.
  2. Contentment does not mean being content with wrong things, or thinking that all there is to the Christian life is unmitigated suffering.
  3. Contentment is not a matter of mind-over-matter, whereby one ignores bad things and thinks only about good things.

Rev. Gordon defined contentment as a holy self-sufficiency, whereby we may remain independent of the things that are happening to us. Paul sought to communicate this truth to the Philippians when he thanked them for their generous gift to him in the Roman prison, but made a point of telling them that he would have been content, in the Lord, even without the gift.

How does one attain, in sanctification, this holy self-sufficiency of Christian contentment? The answer is in Philippians 1:21: For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. To live the Christian life, Christ must be the center of our lives. To be content we must:

  • Know Christ.
  • Commune with Him.
  • Go to Him with our cares.
  • Abide in Him.
  • Have Christ as the center of our existence.

We cannot live the Christian life without Christ.

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