How To Learn Contentment (Philippians 4:10-13)

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We as humans are born knowing how to be discontent. The sense of contentment we do experience is usually a momentary response to ideal circumstances, and it has almost nothing to do with the learned contentment Paul talks about in Philippians 4:10-13. This learned contentment is something that grows internally, and does not grow in response to acquiring more stuff or eliminating stress from our lives. How does it grow then? It is completely dependent on the work of God in our hearts.

These questions can be used as ice-breakers in the beginning OR interwoven between the questions below to draw the group into the discussion.

1. Have you ever received a raise? How long was it until it felt like you “needed” more money?
2. What are your biggest pet peeves? What, if it happens, can make you feel almost instantly discontent?
3. What is your reaction to feeling discontent? Do you start assigning blame? Do you try to control and change things or people around you? Do you get angry?
4. Think about less-than-desirable situations in your life where you do feel content. Ask yourself: are you content, or are you only resigned to the way things are? Do you believe God can still change the situation?

1. Briefly give a synopsis of this week’s sermon. What insight, principle, or observation from this weekend’s message did you find to be most helpful, eye-opening, or troubling? Briefly explain.

2. Read Luke 12:13-34:

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” 16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ 18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” 20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ 21 “This is how it will be with those who store up things for themselves but are not rich toward God.”

22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? 27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. 32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

• Where did the rich man’s thoughts go in verse 17 when he was presented with a greater crop than he needed? Were his established riches enough for him? What would a “contented” response have looked like for this rich man?
• In verse 20, God appeals to the unavoidable nature of death to show how fragile our “ownership” of our possessions is. Note all the uses of “I” and “my” in verses 17-19 – how does the rich man’s wrong idea about him “owning” things feed his greed? Do you think discontentment arises when we attach a strong sense of personal ownership to our possessions? Why or why not?
• In verse 21, Jesus finds the rich man guilty of not being “rich toward God.” Notice here, Jesus does not actually decry being rich. Based on verses 22-28, where do we learn how to be “rich toward God?”
• Why is there a passage (vv. 22-34) about worry after a passage on coveting and greed (vv. 15-21)? What is the connection here? What is at the heart of greed?
• Imagine holding a beloved object in your hand. How does your hand hold that object if you’re following God and truly understanding Him? With an open hand, or with a closed hand? (vv. 29-30)
• Look at verse 32. What does Jesus seem most concerned that we have? What happens if we try to fit the kingdom of God inside of our pursuit of material things, and not the other way around, as Jesus commands in verse 31?
• Finally, note verse 34. Which item does this verse imply that we have the most control over – our heart or what we treasure? What does it mean to “treasure” something?

3. For ministry time, pray that God would grant the freedom and understanding to seek His kingdom first over your “treasures.” Spend some time on reflecting on “treasures” by asking some questions and listening to the Lord in response.

• What makes me angry or happy?
• Where do I spend most of my money?
• Where do I spend most of my time?
• Do these match up with Jesus’ command to seek the kingdom of God first?