Good morning my friends. It is good to know that our life is a journey. It is a reminder that we are suppose to be learning as we go along. So often we are hard on ourselves or people are hard on us because we do not know something or because we have not progressed to that point in our maturity. Often we lose sight of the fact that we are all at different stages in this journey and we need to tolerate others and ourselves when we lack what we think we aught to know. If you want to know what level of maturity a person or a ministry is at look to their critical spirit. If they are able to tolerate, accept and love all believers then they are pretty far along in their journey. However, if they are harsh, critical, intolerant, everyone has to be like them, then either they have not come along very far or they have refused to grow up.
The fact that we are on a journey and we are part of a process gives me a lot of hope. I am very critical and intolerant of myself. I expect a lot from me and I often disappoint myself. For those of you who are the same and think this is healthy and normal, it is not. One of the things I desire is found in today's Scripture reading:
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. (Philippians 4:11)
I would love to lie to myself about this one and claim that contentment as my attitude, but I do not have it. Often I find myself dissatisfied with situations and where I find myself in life. Then I start thinking I should be better than this and get even more upset at myself but that is craziness. Paul said, "I have learned to be". It was a process for him too. He did not just wake up one day and possess contentment:
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. v. 12
Here is an odd thing about contentment; you cannot be afraid to live life and think yourself content. You have to experience life in all its glory and pain before you can learn to be content. How can a person who has had money all their life say that they have learned to be content? How can a person who has been poor all their life say they have learned to be content? If all you have ever known is where you are right now then you have not been living life to the fullest, you have not been a risk taker, you have not lived for the glory of God and you have not experienced enough to claim contentment. Contentment is the realization that you can say these words with Paul:
I can do everything through him who gives me strength. v. 13
Not some things, not what you are comfortable with, not what you are good at but everything. Everything includes the things you do not like, the things you would rather not face, the unpleasant things in life, the things that actually requires the strength of Jesus instead of your own.
I am convinced that most of us have not a clue what it is to live a life that brings glory to God. I am convinced that most of us live all of our life according to our strength and abilities and then give Jesus the glory for it. That is not what the Scripture is referring to here. Paul is talking about things that are difficult to face, things that are challenging because they are beyond us, things that threaten to overwhelm us, things that require 90% prayer and 10% ability. Contentment is when you are willing to face possible failure and feel alright with that. Contentment is being willing to face situations and tasks that threaten to destroy you and yet you feel alright with that. Contentment is when you feel alright about facing a mountain that you cannot move while believing that you can do it through Jesus who gives you strength.
To learn contentment we must move from the world of the possible to the life of the impossible, We need to stop living what we can do by our abilities and move to a place where we know we are involved in God things because we cannot do it, we do not know how. We have to move from this place that requires no faith to live to a place that without faith we would be destroyed. Contentment is a matter of trust. Do we trust our God to do the things he said he would do through us? What is faith if it is never tested? Jesus told us that we would do greater things then what he had done. Are we living our lives to prove him right?
I am glad that I am not suppose to have it all together yet, but at the same time I cannot be satisfied to stay where I am. Too many of us have found a place on the trail to build our home and to live our life. We have reached a spot where we are satisfied with where we have arrived. We have sold out. This is not what we were saved for and it is not contentment. I am determined not to stay in this place and I am determined that I am going to learn to trust Jesus in all things. I am looking forward to the day when I will be able to say with Paul that I have learned the secret of contentment. Until that moment arrives in my maturity I am determined to believe that I can do everything through him who gives me strength.