Scott McVey, associate pastor
Northside Baptist Church, Brunswick
“How Much Land Does a Man Need” is a story by Leo Tolstoy about a peasant named Pahom who is discontent with the land he owns. Even though he is able to acquire more land, the more he acquires, the less content he is. In his continuing search for land, he finally finds what he considers the perfect opportunity.
The Bashkirs, who have plenty of land, offer him as much as he can go around in one day, for 1000 rubles ($15). The one stipulation is that he must return to the same spot at which he started before sunset. He was to take a shovel and wherever he thought necessary and at every turn, stop and dig a hole and pile up the dirt. At the end, the Bashkirs would plow a straight line from hole to hole and this would mark the boundaries of his land.
Because of his greed, he tried to take in too much land and, even though he did make it back to the original spot, he died from exhaustion. As it turned out, he only needed six feet of land on which to be buried.
Whereas, discontented people are consumed with getting, contented people are cheerful in giving. As Christians, we are to be content in the power and provision of God.
Content in God’s power, provision – Philippians 4:10-14
Paul was content. We know this because of the true sign of contentment, i.e. cheerfulness. Paul rejoiced in the Lord because he trusted God. To learn someone cares about you should always bring good cheer to your heart.
Paul realized that circumstances of life include times of abasement. Paul wrote this letter to the Philippians from a Roman prison. He desired to know Christ and the fellowship of His sufferings. He had learned contentment in whatever circumstances he was.
Another thing that he had learned is thankfulness. Thankfulness nurtures contentment. He recognized how both God and the Philippians had benefited and blessed his life and he expressed that thankfulness. He was blessed by the caring and sharing of the Philippians.
Not only did Paul learn contentment, he also leaned on the Lord. Paul realized he could do all things through Christ.
Freely give for the benefit of others – Philippians 4:15-18
Paul recognized the Philippians’ gift was purposeful. Paul pointed out that the Philippians had not practiced their giving based on what others gave or didn’t give.
Not only were the Philippians’ gifts accounted, they were also acceptable. God considered them a fragrant offering and an acceptable sacrifice pleasing to God.
Paul also reminded the Philippians their gifts were accumulating. As you are daily generous to God and others, though your gifts be small, they will accumulate greatly over a lifetime.
God gives to us even as we give to others – Philippians 4:19, 20
Philippians 4:19 is a great promise from God. Unfortunately, many people are guilty of taking the promise out of context.
When you are faithful and generous in your giving to God and others, God promises to meet all your needs. Jesus said, “give and it will be given to you” (Luke 6:38). Otherwise, you will end up like the rich fool in Jesus’ parable in Luke 12:13-21.
Having reminded the Philippians of God’s promise, he exhorts them concerning their praise of God. Because God is faithful to supply your needs, you should give him your gratitude for what He does for you.