Paul says we Christians are running a race. Here's what I'm looking at on my run toward Christ.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

How to do All Things

I'm continuing in the book of Philippians with one of the most famous verses in all of Scripture.

"... for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all things through Him who gives me strength."  Philippians 4:11-13

"I can do all things through Him who gives me strength"  or "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  Whatever the version you read, I'm guessing you know the verse and maybe have a T-shirt with it.

Paul is not saying we can do anything we want because Christ strengthens us.  I'm sorry if you have this verse written on your basketball shoes, but it isn't going to make you dunk no matter how much you meditate on the verse... unless you're 6'7" already.  Obviously, we can do anything including mountain moving if God wants us to, but that's not what this verse is about.

The Apostle Paul was a man that suffered greatly and he was a man that had great triumphs.  What Paul is getting at is that he could and we can be content in any and every circumstance.  That's the miracle he's referring to in Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Him who gives me strength."

So, what is contentment and why is it so amazing?

Contentment, first of all, is not complacency.  A content person is not someone sitting on their hands because life is just fine and there's no reason to do anything to change it.  Paul was a workhorse.  He pushed and pushed and was not satisfied with doing less than everything he could for the sake of the Gospel of Christ.  So, contentment is not complacency.

Contentment isn't necessarily happiness.  When we lose our job, get a cancer diagnosis, have depression, watch family members live without Jesus or even stub our toe we aren't happy, are we?  But we can have the contentment  Paul wrote about.

Here's what I thing contentment is to Paul:  Contentment is trusting in God's goodness and sovereignty in our current circumstance.

Let me explain by looking not at Paul, but at the ultimate example of contentment in all circumstances, Jesus.

Hours before His murder, in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus was far from complacency and happiness.  He went to pray earnestly to God the Father for many things including a way out of His circumstance.  Jesus knew He was about to be crucified and to have all of the Father's wrath poured on Him, and that troubled Jesus greatly.  Jesus was troubled to the point of sweating blood and begging God to change His circumstances.  Yet, He prayed this in Luke 22:42, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."

See, Jesus didn't like His circumstance, but He was content in it.  Jesus trusted in the Father's goodness and sovereignty.  He didn't say, "You jerk, why are you doing this to me!"  And He didn't say, "Are you sure this is going to work?"  Jesus trusted that the Father was good and that the Father's will was best.  We must as well.

God gives us endurance in more than escape from circumstances.  Can He deliver us from our undesired circumstance?  Absolutely, but He's weaving an amazing complex tapestry that will be/is magnificently beautiful and good.  God is good and sovereign.  See the life of the Apostle Paul, Joseph, Jesus or the life of Louis Zamperini to see how our bad becomes God's good.

"I can do all things through Him who gives me strength."  I can.  I can be content in all circumstances whether rich or poor, sick or well, and you can, too because it's Christ who strengthens us.

Be content by trusting in God's goodness and sovereignty today.

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