With last week’s passage still resounding in my mind, this week we turn to a passage where we find Paul considering the very best of his former life as absolute rubbish compared to the surpassing greatness of Christ (Phil 3:4-11). Surely this leads us to a question. How much do we value Christ? Is he everything? Is he our sole source of contentment? I spent some considerable time today thinking through contentment as a complementary subject for this week’s sermon. Paul is content to give up everything for the sake of Christ. His contentment is totally bound in the work of the cross and the love of his savior.
What is the nature of contentment? Being satisfied in Christ is what happens when our joy is found in Him alone. God is holy and our transformation in Christ into his image is everything. Being satisfied in Christ is actually the greatest riches one could ever consider. It is the gain in my life that keeps me seeking in full satisfaction at every moment along the way. Christ always satisfies and I am never left empty in him - Not now and not in the future. This means that contentment in Christ actually destroys worldly want. In Christ I am not left unsatisfied. I am not left without rest and peace now or in the future. Contentment spans time. We cannot say we are satisfied now but left wanting in the future. No. In Christ I can have satisfaction right now and I look forward to an eternal ever increasing satisfaction. If not for an eternal focus, we would end up dissatisfied and without joy. Contentment even in this sad sin cursed world also brings joy. Even in the sorrow we can have joy because Christ is our everything and has solved our greatest need for all eternity. We are never contented in misery but Christ turns us from misery into joy. Christ loves me and rescued me when nobody else could. To be content I must look to the object of my contentment. The more I see Christ, the more I see that I am not content in anything else. Only Christ.
Humans all across this world are looking for contentment and not finding it. The atheists think they are content in their belief that when they die there is nothing. The Buddhists believe they will find contentment in nirvana which is achieving the state of nothingness. How can there be contentment in nothingness? This can only be an absence of discontentment (and in their error will find the greatest discontentment for all eternity). To be contented you have to be consciously that way. You cannot be unconsciously content. You have to be content in an object that is the very source of eternal joy and actually know it. Only the Christian knows a source of eternal joy and blessedness. Only we in Christ can know an everlasting spring of living water bubbling up to eternal glory. Contentment produces a realm of gratitude in us for the esteemed privilege of being elect. As I think upon my contentment in Christ it only causes me to enjoy that contentment more as I desire him more. So if today you are discontent, contentment is right in front of you - its name is Jesus. Think about the qualities of contentment in Christ - joy, love, comfort, peace, holiness, glory, inheritance, needing nothing, possessing everything, a clear conscience, forgiveness, and eradication of worry, and worldly dissatisfaction.
There is no comparison for true contentment because there is no claim for eternal satisfaction in this world outside of Christ. The object in which we have contentment can only be that which is truly and eternally complete. And here is Christ. He has done it. He has fulfilled all that we could not fulfill. He is ruling and reigning. Yet there is still a day coming in which our contentment will be fully satisfied for all eternity in the removal of death and the distraction of sin. But even that is a certainty we can be content in today. We are content now, and not yet. This is why Christian martyrs were so willing to go to their death. Stephen was stoned in total contentment. Paul was beaten and imprisoned in utter contentment. The Philippians were encouraged to face their Roman and Jewish oppressors in utter contentment. And today, we can face our burdens, our sicknesses, our difficulties, our rejections and our haunting past in utter contentment. Jesus has saved to the uttermost. He is our all in all.