It has been pointed out that we live in a microwave society. We want what we want and we want it now. And when we don’t get what we want when we want it, we grumble and complain.
But is that the way we are supposed to be? Paul certainly wasn’t. In thanking the Philippians for their generosity, he told them,
I am not saying this because I am in need, 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 everything through him who gives me strength. (11-13)
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”
How many of us can say that?
Paul says that he had been in times of need, and yet he was content. And when he was in times of plenty, he was content then too.
It’s easy to understand the need to be content in times of need. But how many of us think of the need to be content in times of plenty? Yet too many of us aren’t. We have all we need and more, and yet we complain that we don’t have enough. Why is that? Why do we have so much difficulty being content, even when we have plenty?
Probably because of where our life is centered. For many Christians, their lives are still focused on themselves. They’re always thinking about their wants and their needs. And in thinking about their wants and needs, they fail to realize what is the one thing that truly brings contentment: a relationship with Christ. Knowing him. Experiencing his resurrection power in their lives. Waking up each day, looking in the mirror, and realizing that through your sufferings and trials, you are becoming more like him. And seeing each day that you are grasping more and more just what it is God took hold of you for.
Paul said he hadn’t completely done that, but he probably came closer than most. And because of that, his circumstances couldn’t take away from his joy. When he had little, he rejoiced in Christ. When he had much, he rejoiced in Christ.
In Japan, we have a word, “gaman.” It means to “endure.” And Japanese people pride themselves in being able to “gaman,” through difficult circumstances. The problem is, they tend to rely on their own strength, and as a result, they eventually find themselves stretched beyond their limits.
But Paul didn’t just “gaman.” He rejoiced in his relationship with Christ. And because he did so, he found the strength to endure whatever he went through.
How about you? Are you content? Is Christ the center of your life? Or are you constantly seeking other things, hoping they will make your life complete? Those things will never fulfill you. Only a relationship with Christ will.
What’s the center of your life today?