Note: The AMI QT Devotionals from December 11-17 are written by Phillip Chen, college pastor intern at Church of Southland. Philip, a graduate of University of California, San Diego, is currently studying at Talbot School of Theology. He is married to Esther.
Devotional Thought for Today
Philippians 4:10-13 (ESV)
I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
I’m sure many of us remember seeing videos of mobs of people fighting for Black Friday items the day after Thanksgiving. These days, Black Friday even infringes upon Thanksgiving Day, which shows the trajectory of our society. We look at these videos and we shake our heads: How could they act like this, especially after a day of celebrating gratitude and contentment in all that they have? But to be honest, are we any different? I may not be in those crowds, but my discontentment, frustration, and anger manifests in different ways. When we look at our own lives, don’t we all have moments where we are frustrated with where we are, not content with the circumstances in our lives? The truth is, when our contentment is based off of our circumstances, our level of our contentment fluctuates dramatically. We find that contentment becomes a temporary phenomenon that quickly dissolves. So how then can we find true contentment that remains steady in our lives?
Looking at this passage, again we must understand that Paul is writing this while in prison, in very difficult circumstances. There are people who have been persecuting him, and his friends have abandoned him. He is not treated all that well, and yet he says rejoice and be content. How does he do that? He prefaces the secret to being content by saying he knows what it means to be in need and what it is to have plenty—he has experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. He has seen both ends of the spectrum. He has been in a position where he is the elite of the elites, but also been in a position where he is fleeing for his life by many people who want to kill him. In 2 Corinthians 11, he shares of how he had been beaten and stoned and shipwrecked, how he fled from Gentiles and from Jews, how he labored and toiled and went without sleep, how he was hungry, thirsty, cold and naked. Yet in all this, he is content. Why? Because he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him. He knows his identity in Christ and is content in any circumstance because he knows that Jesus has already given and will continue to give him the strength to hold on and press forward.
The advent of social media has contributed to the increasing feelings of jealously that we all feel. Whether it’s the videos of beautiful vacation spots, photos of seemingly perfect relationships, or even the snapshots of all the delicious food that we see in our friend’s post, I think we can all safely say that we have felt jealousy stir in our hearts because of this. Jealousy is dangerous, because it can lead to comparing ourselves with others, making us feel insecure; then insecurity breeds discontentment. While we can certainly limit our social media intake or make conscious efforts not to be jealous of others, the best antidote is to be secure in our identity in Christ and to find our contentment in Him, declaring that He is all we need in this lifetime. It’s not a complex secret, but is certainly something that is difficult to truly believe and hold onto. Today, as culture tells you to find contentment in your circumstances, in your relationships, or in your possessions, choose instead to place your contentment solely in Him.
Prayer: Father, help me find my contentment in You, rather than my current circumstances or situation. In high and low, in every season, help me declare confidently that You are enough for me. I don’t want to be tossed back and forth by my different situations, but rather, help me stand firm – knowing that You will give me the strength to rejoice in You. Amen.
[Reflect on a current situation that might be difficult right now and choose to find joy in God rather than the outcome of the situation.]
Bible Reading for Today: 1 Kings 7