LEARN TO BE CONTENT - Philippians 4

Shabbat Shalom family,

Timotiyos Aleph/1 Timothy 6:6-8 “But reverence with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought naught into the world, and it is impossible to take any out. 8 When we have food and covering, we shall be satisfied with these.

Reverence with contentment… 2 very powerful attributes that ought to be actively embraced in the life of a true worshipper of Elohim. The Greek word translated here as ‘reverence’ is the noun εὐσέβεια eusebeia – Strong’s G2150 and carries the meaning of, well-directed reverence, and at its root it carries the meaning, to be true and to adore’ speaking of one’s devout worship and being dutiful in one’s obedience. This word, applied to a believer, denotes a life that is truly acceptable unto Messiah, indicating a proper attitude toward יהושע  Messiah, who saves him. It comes from the adjective εὐσεβής eusebēs – Strong’s G2152 which describes a pious, devout, reverent man. These words are a construct of two words: 1 - εὖ eu – Strong’s G2095 which is an adverb meaning, good, well done and 2 – σέβω sebō – Strong’s G4576 which is a verb that means, to worship, revere, Elohim-fearing. So true reverence, even in the Greek understanding is a good and well done, Elohim-fearing worship!!! εὐσέβεια eusebeia reflects both an attitude and a way of life, that is well pleasing to our Master, through the continued display of complete set-apartness without compromise!

When we understand what true reverence toward Elohim means, we will find that we will do our utmost to give no room for compromise, and forever strive for perfection in the Master, no matter where we find ourselves or in what circumstances we may be in. Let me be very clear – it is possible to fake εὐσέβεια eusebeia – that is to have ‘a form of reverence’ in appearance only, while not having the real thing. This is what many are doing today, as they are simply putting on a show, having a form or reverence but no power to actually live it out, as their neglect for a well pleasing and good Elohim-fearing worship is non-existent, as clearly seen through their neglect for the Torah and the need to guard the commands of Elohim!

I think we can all agree that we do not see much reverence toward Elohim today! A twisted message has caused many to not have a true reverence for Elohim whatsoever; and they do as they please while at the same time think that they can demand to walk in the Promises of the Word! The false prosperity message seeks to claim all the promises without actually walking in obedience as they want the presence and promise of יהוה while turning their noses up at the need to be fed and to walk in The Word and obey the clear instructions for set-apart living.

Kěpha Bět/2 Peter 1:3 “as His Mighty-like power has given to us all we need for life and reverence, through the knowledge of Him who called us to esteem and uprightness.

Here Kěpha is very clear – יהושע has given us all we need for life and reverence – through the knowledge of Him!!!

Now while I could go on about reverence, I am sure that we are all familiar with the clear understanding of what true reverence toward our Mighty Master and Elohim entails, but what I want to look at tonight is that attribute or characteristic that, when found together with reverence, brings great gain; and that is ‘contentment’! In a message tonight called, ‘LEARN TO BE CONTENT!’ may we be reminded how important this is for us who desire to reverent lives before our Master and King, יהושע Messiah!

Please turn with me to Philippians/Pilipiyim 4 (Read).

Reverence is essential in any true believers life, yet Sha’ul tells us that reverence with contentment is great gain, as we read earlier! Now the Greek phrase ‘great gain’ is from the words: 1) μέγας megas – Strong’s G3173 which means, great, abundant, large and 2) πορισμός porismos – Strong’s G4200 which means, to procure or provide a means of gain, acquisition, source of gain. You want to know what the ‘source of MEGA GAIN’ is – here in Scripture is the clear answer – reverence with contentment! As we look at the closing chapter of Sha’ul’s letter to the Philippians, we are able to gain some valuable insight in recognising our need for contentment, and having a steadfast mind in our Master in all circumstances. What we need to be reminded of when reading this letter, is that Sha’ul wrote this letter to the Philippians while he was in prison – he was not sitting on some tropical island catching a suntan – he was in chains!!! And while in chains he teaches us a great deal in regards to contentment, for this was a man whose identity was secure in the Master, and the words of this letter reveals this to us! He is in prison and he basically says, “Listen guys, I have found the recipe for joy!” He had to face imprisonment, division among believers in Rome and now in Philippi, and even the threat of death, yet he is content and free from worry. In writing to the assembly at Philippi he shares with them the secret to victory over worry, which he had learnt through his life. What is interesting to note is that the Greek word Φίλιπποι Philippoi – Strong’s G5375 means, lover of horses, and was a city in Macedonia. Now being in the south of Greece, the people in Philippi would have been greatly influenced by the worlds ways, and the meaning of this name of a city that was founded by the king of Macedon, Philip II, can teach us a lesson on the continual struggle that the ways of the flesh and the ways of the spirit are in continual battle over. Horses and chariots in Scripture are often used as a metaphor for riches and wealth, and we are reminded of the words Dawiḏ, the beloved king in:

Tehillim/Psalm 20:7 “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we remember the Name of יהוה our Elohim.

One of the toughest battles that most people face on a daily basis is the wrestling between the anxieties that the deceit of wealth and worries of this life tries to load upon people, and the ability to remain firm and headstrong in our faith and being content, despite the varying circumstances or challenges we face.

In this very powerful letter to the believers in Philippi, we are able to recognise the very clear theme of this letter, in teaching us how we are to put on the helmet of deliverance, as it reveals to us the mind of Messiah we ought to have!

In Chapter 1 Sha’ul describes what could be called ‘the single mind’, and shows how to gain victory over circumstances. In Chapter 2 he describes ‘the submissive mind’ and encourages us on how to overcome troublesome people. In Chapter 3 he describes ‘the spiritual mind’ and how we can be triumphant over physical circumstances; and here in Chapter 4 he teaches us what it is to have ‘a secure mind’, a mind that is filled with peace and joy.

When you have a secure mind in יהושע Messiah then His peace will guard you and guide you; and when we have that kind of protection – why worry? Worry chokes out the Truth and can cause us to lose breath, faint and even perish, yet if our mind is secure, then we are able to breath with confidence; and as the last verse in Tehillim/Psalms tells us – Let everything that has breath praise יהוה. A worried mind cannot praise effectively, while a mind that is secure in all circumstances can! A secure mind in our Master is a sure remedy to worry, and can bring us complete contentment, which with reverence will give us great gain!

In verse 6 Sha’ul tells us very plainly, “Do not worry at all”, and the Greek word for ‘worry’ is μεριμνάω merimnaō – Strong’s G3309 which means, to be anxious, care for, worry and comes from the root μέριμνα merimna – Strong’s G3308 which means, cares, worries, anxieties. יהושע tells us in the Parable of the sower and the seed, that the worries/cares of this life choke out the word, and this is exactly what happens to the seed sown among thorns, which pictures those who hear the Word, but the worries of life choke it out! This Greek word can also render the understanding of, being pulled in different directions – have you ever felt like you are being pulled in so many directions that you do not know which way to turn?

The sad reality is that most of us allow anxieties to consume us and when this does, then the very Word that has been deposited gets choked out – now think about this choking  - it is not a nice experience!!! Worries choke out the good deposit. We are to be on guard and watch, and be careful for this not to happen! How many of you have worries? Just think about it, we all have bills, bills, bills, and more bills – sometimes we even dread looking in the post box.

Sha’ul is teaching us in this letter, that when our minds are secure in our Master then we should not worry at all! This does not mean that we be ignorant of pressing needs and responsibilities, it means that we are to guard the good deposit and not lose heart and allow the Word that sustains us to be choked out!

Here in this last chapter of this letter to Philippi Sha’ul is giving us a remedy for worry. In the first couple of verses he is appealing to the assembly to be of the same mind, and pleads with two women who were fighting to make up and agree with each other in the Master. Perhaps these two women were well known and very influential, and the dispute they were having was obviously affecting many others, and it was time to put aside personal agendas and get busy with the Master’s!

I spoke two weeks ago about ‘The trouble of one can affect the many’ as we looked at Aḵan and how an individual’s compromise can have an enormous effect on the greater assembly. Sha’ul urged these two women to walk in unity so as not to bring division and break their ability to stand firm together in the Master; as he basically reminded them of יהוה’s presence, and that the Master is near; in other words He is with you to help you now. Εὐοδία Euodia – Strong’s G2136 means, fragrant or prosperous journey and Συντύχη Suntuchē – Strong’s G4941 means, a pleasant acquaintance, joyful event. These two women were not living up to the meaning of their names. These two who once contended at Sha’ul’s side for the sake of the Besorah, and were certainly not being pleasant or prosperous in their friendship; as they were now being contentious rather than content, and Sha’ul encourages them to “make things right”.

How true it is today that when we don’t “make things right” with people, then worry creeps in! This is an open door for worry and fear! We need to learn to walk in unity and ‘make right’ even when we have been wronged, because if we do not our mind can never be secure in the Master and we shall struggle with true contentment, which in turn may render our reverence as being a mere form without any power!

He commands a rejoicing here, and this is not a suggestion but rather is a clear instruction, for we are to rejoice in the Master always, and when there are disputes and fightings in the body, true rejoicing is hindered!

There is no joy in narrow selfishness; joy involves an open heart and a generous love. Now sometimes the trials and pressures of life may make it almost impossible to feel joyful. But Sha’ul here was not telling his readers to be joyful – he was encouraging them to rejoice in the Master. יהושע Messiah is the One in whom the sphere of rejoicing must take place. Yes there are many circumstances where we may not or cannot be joyful, but we can always rejoice in the Master and delight in Him – why? Because of His presence - He is with us and He is near at hand to help us in all circumstances. Sha’ul was an excellent example for us as one who had inner joy despite external circumstances such as persecutions, imprisonment or even the threats of death that were against him.

The word translated as ‘rejoice’ is the Greek word χαίρω chairō – Strong’s G5463 which means, be glad, joyful, thrive, give one’s greeting and approval, and this is what we ought to be doing always – living our lives in a joyful approval of the Master’s instructions for us as His treasured possession – we are able to do this when we recognise that He is near, and the Greek word translated as ‘near’ is ἐγγύς eggus – Strong’s G1451 which means, near, nearby, draw near, ready and is understood as referring to times that are imminent and about to come to pass. This imminent return of our Master ought to cause us to be a rejoicing people, who with great expectation shall be found having fervent faith when our Master comes!

With a true rejoicing heart that is secure in the Master, Sha’ul continues to teach us on how we ought to think, and it begins with whatever is true! Praise our Master that He has taken the veil of lies from our eyes and revealed to us His Truth! This alone ought to cause us to be a continual rejoicing people, as we set our minds continually on His Truth as we meditate day and night on His Torah! Why then does worry set in? Well, what is interesting to take note of is that a survey that was done showed that only 8% of the things people worried about were actually legitimate matters of concern. That means that at least 92% of the worries that people have are either imaginary, never come true or are matters that are beyond their control and are therefore wasting their time worrying over it. Satan is a liar, he is the father of lies and he wants to corrupt our minds with lies. If our thinking is of “whatever is true”, then lies will be easily spotted and rejected!

The Truth sets us free from worries and lies! Sha’ul continues to expand on that which goes with the pure truth – nobility, righteousness, clean, lovely and of good report. Without the Truth we are unable to discern between the set-apart and profane, or between the clean and the unclean, and true righteousness involves a guarding of the commands and so to think of righteousness is to be thinking of how we ought to be walking, in set-apart and complete obedience to the Torah of Elohim!

Sha’ul then tells them to keep on practicing that which they had learned from him and the Greek word translated as ‘practice’ in verse 9 is πράσσω prassō – Strong’s G4238 which means, to do, attend to, perform, undertake to do, practice, be busy with, accomplish. What Sha’ul was telling them was that they were to be busy with that which they had learned from him, and that which he had just reminded them of in terms of their thought life! How many of you have found your mind wandering from the truth and purity and righteousness, and you find yourself involved in rude discussions and coarse joking that does not build up others? Well this we are to guard against, and we will when we practice to think on that which we should!

Now here in verse 11 is the concept of how we are to get true contentment, and as we see from Sha’ul’s words from a prison cell, he tells us plainly that he ‘learned to be content’ in whatever state he was! Reverence is a clear duty and responsibility of a set-apart servant of the Most High, and when we understand that true reverence with true contentment gives us great gain, and establishes within us a secure and joy-filled mind, we need to recognise that contentment does not just fall into one’s lap – it needs to be learned! What Sha’ul teaches us is that we should not be the victim of our circumstances, but we should rather be the victor over our circumstances, where we are in a secure place of a pure thought life that strengthens us in the Beloved, and gives us the courage to accept all circumstances and not be crippled by them, but rather be strengthened to do all through Messiah who empowers us in the Truth of His Living Word!

We need to learn to not be pampered in order to be content, but rather we ought to find true contentment in our Master, as we follow Him and walk as He walked!

Contentment is not complacency, nor is it a false peace based on ignorance, for the complacent are unconcerned about others, while the one who is truly content is always willing to share in what he does have, despite how much or how little that may be, and in fact the truly content one will share in his lack! Contentment is not an escape from the battles of life, but rather a faithful abiding in the full shalom we have in our Master as we walk in Him and remain in Him, amidst the battles that surround us continually!

Sha’ul learned to be content!!! The Greek word translated as ‘learned’ is μανθάνω manthanō – Strong’s G3129 which means, learn by use, practice and the basic meaning of this Greek word is understood as, to experience, and the use of this word implies an intellectual concern, which can therefore also render for us the understanding of, seek to experience or, learn to know; and this word is also used in the Greek language with the understanding of, learning skills under instruction. This word comes from the root μαθ- math which means, to learn, educated, receive instruction, and a derivative of the word μανθάνω manthanō is μαθητής mathētēs – Strong’s G3101 which means, disciple, pupil, student, taught one or one who is learning’. Sha’ul was one who had learnt, under the instructions of our Master, on how to be content in all situations, as he would follow the instructions of the Good Teacher! The Greek word translated as ‘content’ is αὐτάρκης autarkēs – Strong’s G842 which means, content, sufficient for one’s self, self-sufficient, independent of external circumstances, and this comes from two Greek words: 1) - αὐτός autos – Strong’s G846 which is a pronoun that means, self, he, she, it and 2) - ἀρκέω arkeō – Strong’s G714 which means, be enough, suffice, content, to be possessed of unfailing strength, be strong, ward off, defend. This clearly implies for us that in the battles of changing circumstances you take a firm and shalom filled stand, and be strong and of good courage! This ability to stand in any circumstance takes learning to stand in any circumstance! In order to stand firm and possess an unfailing strength in the Master, we need to learn how to stand, and so it comes with a much needed learning on how to do that through many differing circumstances, and so we, as students of the Most High, are enlisted in the school of life and receive on the job training, for which we are fitted in the Master for every good work, regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in! There were certainly times when Sha’ul pleaded for a way out, yet when he asked or pleaded with the Master 3 times that a thorn in the flesh be taken from him, he was given a very clear answer:

Qorintiyim Bět/2 Corinthians 12:9 “And He said to me, “My favour is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, then, I shall rather boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Messiah rests on me.

The Greek word translated as ‘sufficient’ is ἀρκέω arkeō which we have just discussed! This word is also found in:

Timotiyos Aleph/1 Timothy 6:8 “When we have food and covering, we shall be satisfied with these.

We have our covering in the Blood of Messiah, and we have our food in the Word that sustains us, and having these we shall be content!

Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 13:5-6 “Let your way of life be without the love of money, and be satisfied with what you have. For He Himself has said, “I shall never leave you nor forsake you”, 6 so that we boldly say, “יהוה is my helper, I shall not fear what man shall do to me.”

Be content with what you have… for יהוה is our help!!! And it is in various circumstances that we will learn this, for we will quickly learn that יהוה is our help, when we find ourselves in life’s most difficult situation and circumstances, where the only peaceful option is to learn to be content and satisfied with what we have! When we can continue to learn this along with pure reverence, we will find great gain!!!

I was encouraged by this passage, as some of you may remember that Justin read this passage in Philippians/Pilipiyim 4:10-20 two weeks ago on Shabbat, after our reading of the Torah and the Prophets, and in light of events that have transpired since then, I was greatly encouraged that he got to read these words, even though he read it from his French Scriptures! Justin had a severe stroke two days later and has been in a coma for almost 2 weeks now, with the prognosis looking very slim, as he is being transferred to hospice care, with the doctors making it clear that he has little time left. As sad and heart-breaking as it is for us as a small fellowship, I was extremely encouraged by the fact that he got to read these words of Sha’ul, as if his own, to us, in what may be his farewell words to us. Justin, as many of you will know, was a man who too had learned to be content in whatever state he was in. This was his second stroke, the first happening 3 years ago, and he has been on disability for the past 8 months or so. He was a man that was extremely grateful and thankful for the concern we showed him, even when we had no chance to physically meet all his needs. He found continually strength in our Master, and he certainly knew what it was to have in excess as well as what it was to be in need. I can only be strengthened by his example of reverence with contentment and know that his example is a challenge to us all, and ought to cause us to look into the mirror of the Word and assess our own lives to see if we are open to the continual learning of contentment, that when coupled with reverence we shall find great gain in standing steadfast in our faith, with a secure mind in our Master, or are we falling too easily into worries!

When we have the Master as our sure help and shield, why should we not be content! As we consider the following verses from Tehillim/Psalms, may we be strengthened to learn to be content and stand in great reverence of our coming King.

Tehillim/Psalm 33:20 “Our being has longed for יהוה; our help and our shield is He.

Tehillim/Psalm 54:4 “See, Elohim is my helper; יהוה is with those who sustain my life.

Tehillim/Psalm 63:7 “For You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing.

Tehillim/Psalm 115:9-11 “O Yisra’ĕl, trust in יהוה; He is their help and their shield. 10 O house of Aharon, trust in יהוה; He is their help and their shield. 11 You who fear יהוה, trust in יהוה; He is their help and their shield.

Tehillim/Psalm 124:8 “Our help is in the Name of יהוה, maker of the heavens and earth.

 Knowing this truth, why should we worry anymore…. Let us learn to be content, Aměn!

יהוה bless you and guard you; יהוה make His face shine upon you and show you favour; יהוה lift up His face to you and give you Shalom!