How do I go about changing the way I think about my material goods, and that includes our income, homes, automobiles, boats, toys, etc.? Well Paul told the Philippians earlier in this chapter to be anxious for nothing. We must have a thankful heart for all we have and not dwell on the things we don’t.
We should also look at others who have less than us with some sympathy, even if they’ve placed themselves in their current predicament. Now I am not advocating that we enable bad behavior, but that person is in his or her bad place because of a lack of Biblical wisdom.
For those who are in need of support out of no cause of their own deserve our help. Those in ministry, mission, and misery should always get our help.
But what if it is you who are in this predicament? You must learn to adapt to the situation and know that Jesus will carry you through. That is Paul’s teaching in this morning’s passage:
“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:10-13)
That last verse is found on many a refrigerator magnet, paper weight, and bumper sticker as a Christian’s life verse; it is my oldest daughter’s life verse. But too many use this verse—“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”—not in its original intent. This is not to meant to be a power verse as it is often used in today’s Christian culture but as a reminder that no matter what you’re facing, especially when you are facing lean times, we receive enabling grace through Christ Jesus.
Look back at verse 11—“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content”—Paul is speaking of contentment in verse 11 and then gives the reason for his contentment in verse 13. Too often verse 11 is overlooked when Christians turn to verse 13. This is not meant to be one of those “name it and claim it” verses that so many peddlers of Christ use today.
Paul was writing to the Philippians from a Roman jail with Timothy by his side. He had years earlier written his young spiritual son a letter talking of contentment and warning against error and greed:
“Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Timothy 6:6-10)
Verse 10 here is another often misquoted Bible verse; the words “for the love of” is often left off. It is the love of money, the desire to be wealthy financially that has caused countless Christians to stray “from the faith in their greediness”, self-inflicting themselves “with many sorrows.”
It is sad to see how many people, many among them Christians, get fooled by get rich schemes found on the internet and bogus emails, greatest among them a person somewhere in Africa whose inherited a great sum of money and they need you to open a joint bank account so they can give you some of it while they collect the money. Really?
Christian financial counselor and author Dave Ramsey puts it best when it comes to get rich quick schemes:
“You can’t work three hours a week and make $100,000. Get rich quick doesn’t work. Crock pot mentality always defeats microwave mentality!”
Let me help you with a little exercise you can do on paper to see if you are content in life. Take a blank piece of paper, fold it in half length-wise. On the left column write down all the things you need and want; on the right column write down all you have. I’ve shared this with you before but it goes back to the old thanksgiving hymn from Johnson Oatman Jr. that I think bears revisiting:
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
There is no better cure for stinking thinking when it comes to stuff then to “see what God hath done!” Go ahead and do it today. When you change the way you think about stuff, your heart will change and suddenly you start becoming more generous and then receive even greater blessings.
More on that tomorrow…
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Copyright © 2012 David Jeffers