It’s not a question of “want” it’s a question of “how”

Comparison and top ten lists require a clear favorite and Paul’s letter to the church at Phillipi has one.  As far as being recognized this one is a standby to encourage and empower.  No doubt you’ve seen it on everything from stationery to wall hangings.  It’s Paul’s pep talk to the church about getting through tough times and no doubt it served them well.  Unfortunately plucking it out of his text misses what are probably more important thoughts about how to succeed.  More important because Paul wasn’t a stranger to hardship and he’d learned a thing or two about getting through it.

Paul learned how to be happy with what we had.  When you can do that then by extension “need” goes away.  Just to give some context though, Paul made sure his church knew he hadn’t gone without his whole life.  I imagine his point was that we should be happy with much as well as little.  How many times have you seen someone with a lot whose thirst for more can never be quenched?  This definitely isn’t what Paul wanted for his new church.  Constantly chasing more is a certain path to disaster.  I think we know this but sometimes being happy with what we have is a daily struggle.  The sins of envy and greed too often take us down and we find ourselves yearning for what others have even though we have enough as it is.

So what’s the key?  How can we be content with wherever we find ourselves?  I can’t begin to sum it up in just a few words.  Certainly the strength we receive from our relationship with God is important just as our continued prayer leads us to a greater contentment.  I don’t believe we can learn what Paul knew simply by hanging an inspirational quote, no matter what its source, on our cubicle wall.  However, regular dialogue with God is a good start to make his influence and the teachings of his Son a part of your everyday life.  Enriched with his strength and knowledge, you can find peace wherever you find yourself, with a little or a lot.

I think we all chase something, probably to our detriment.  It can be something clearly bad for us or just something we’re a little too hung up on.  Either way, learning to be happy where we are is a real skill.  It’s nice to know we have a good teacher for this.  I hope you’ll play the part of instructor and send this to someone who could use some sound advice.

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