Explore The Bible Study: Joy and Contentment

3:20 PM


How would you define contentment? One dictionary defines contentment as “the state of being mentally or emotionally satisfied with things as they are.” Based upon this definition, do you believe people today are content? Most of us have either struggled with contentment or have observed others who are struggling. This is why the Explore the Bible Study: Joy and Contentment, is an important study for the current times in which we live.

It’s rare that we find anyone who is truly content with his or her condition in life. Many times, it’s because we don’t have a clear understanding of what it means to be content. In Philippians 4:10-20, Paul defines contentment and provides some ways we can learn how to guard against the thieves that would attempt to steal it away.

Paul reminds us that true contentment isn’t found in what others do for us or in what we have - Philippians 4:10-14

Notice that Paul was grateful for how the Philippian church had responded to him. They cared for him (v. 10); they were concerned about him (v. 10); they partnered with him (v. 14). Paul was certainly grateful and thankful for the expressions of love from the church at Philippi, but his contentment was not dependent on anything they provided or in the way they cared for him in the past or in the future. We all appreciate the kind words or expressions of love from friends, especially during tough times but this shouldn’t drive or dictate to us our level of contentment.

Experiencing contentment solely because of our relationship with Christ does not come naturally. Yet we see from Paul’s words that contentment in Christ alone can be found. We should strive to learn how to be content in Christ alone so that our feelings of contentment aren’t driven by what we have or by the friends who care for us.

  • What things do people in our culture consider necessities? What happens when circumstances take away some of these necessities? How do people respond?
  • How can social media sites cause one to become discontent? What needs to change if someone determines their level of contentment based upon their number of friends on social media or the number of likes of a certain post or picture?
  • Are you relying on your physical circumstances or expressions of love from friends to determine your level of contentment?

Being content produces gratefulness - Philippians 4:15-18

The Philippians had given gifts to Paul in the past and he was very grateful; yet we must remember that he has already stated that his contentment was not dependent on their past gifts or future gifts. This church had supported Paul in his early days of ministry (Acts 16:12-17:1) like no other church had. He desired to acknowledge their support by expressing his gratefulness. He wanted them to realize that their deeds would not go unnoticed by God either. He used accounting terminology in verse 17, referring to their giving as a credit on their account. Paul noted that what might appear to be a loss was really a gain.

Notice that Paul expressed his gratefulness for their gifts by stating that he had received everything, had an abundance, and was fully supplied. Additionally Paul stated that God viewed their gifts as a fragrant offering, acceptable sacrifice, and pleasing to God.

  • If someone is content in Christ alone, how should that change the way they view gifts or expressions of kindness given to them by others? 
  • If one is content in Christ, how does that impact their giving to others?

Contentment is found in knowing Who provides it - Philippians 4:19-20

Paul was content in whatever state he might be found because he knew WHO was supplying all his needs – God through Jesus Christ. There was no need Paul had that couldn’t be supplied because God’s riches are limitless. He desired for the Philippian believers and us to understand this as well. It’s not about what we receive or what we give, but it is because of Jesus Christ that we can be content.

Are You Struggling With or Striving To Be Content?

Notice I asked if you were striving and not, “Are you content?” We will all have times, especially when we face certain challenges in life, where contentment seems to elude us. This is where we must remember Paul’s wisdom regarding contentment from our passage today.

Consider your own state of contentment and the actions you need to take to become more content.

  1. Are you basing your contentment on what you have or on how others feel about you in knowing Christ and Christ alone?
  2. Are you grateful for what you have been given, or are you always desiring more?
  3. Are you constantly aware that all your needs are provided by Christ?

The downloadable teaching helps provide more details for this study along with some tools you can use in guiding a group Bible study. Be sure to use this as a supplement to your study of the Explore the Bible Study resources provided by LifeWay.

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