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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Vulnerable to Attack

In Paul's letter to the church at Philippi, he makes his famous statement, "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." (Phil 4:13) This, of course, is not some lame "name it and claim it" scheme. Paul isn't claiming that Christ gives him power to do anything at all. He is speaking specifically, and he tells us what specifically he is speaking about.
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 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. (Phil 4:11-12)
The "all things" that Christ gives Paul the strength to do is to be content whether in poverty or riches, hungry or full. In all situations, Christ enables Paul to be satisfied.

Isn't it odd, though, that Paul includes the "up-side"? He says that Christ empowers him to be content when he abounds, when he has plenty, when he has abundance. Isn't that strange? I mean, "Um, hey, Paul, do we really need special empowerment from Christ to be satisfied when we're doing well?" Yes ... yes we do.

When they asked one of the richest American men who ever lived, "How much is enough?" he answered, "A little bit more." That's because we are born dissatisfied, it seems. But there is another issue here. I would suggest that humans are perhaps the most vulnerable when they are well off.

Think about it. When times are tough, we knuckle under. We work, we struggle, we even seek God. The old "There are no atheists in foxholes" (whether or not the proverb is true) tells that story. When we're in trouble, we look for help. What about when we're not? Oh, well then, we don't need help. We don't think that we need help. "Don't worry, God, I've got this." And it is precisely then that we have our defenses down and are the easiest targets.

Paul had to learn to be content with much. He had to learn both not to long for more and not to rely on the abundance he had. I think we all have the same problem. I think that this is one of the reasons that the American church is so weak. "Don't worry, God," we tend to think even if we don't admit it, "we've got this." And ... we don't.


Neil said...

Great points. I always tend to focus on the "brought low" parts but there is just as big a risk at the high points.

Leigh said...

love this