Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Empty or Full?

My thought for today is based on Philipians 4:12. It says, “I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” On the surface, it seems pretty clear. Paul says he knows how to want and how to be full. But there's really more to Paul's statement than meets the eye.

First, the word “instructed” seems pretty clear. But Jamieson, Fausset and Brown's commentary says there's more. They point out that the Greek word implies being initiated into something not available in the world. There is a secret Truth behind this understanding that Paul speaks of. And what is that secret?

Many commentators contrast “abased” & “to abound”. Poverty versus the prosperity test or esteem of men. And, to some extent, that's true. Gill talks about “how to want and how to be full” as experiencing both extremes in the same day. And that may also be true. But I think the real truth of Paul's message, here, is couched in the full meaning of “instructed” and the verses on either side of this one.

Verse 11 reads, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” And verse 13 says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Paul doesn't give up because he is abased and he doesn't revel in worldly abounding. Instead, there's a God given contentment in all circumstances. And that's the secret. Our spiritual abundance is not driven by physical wealth (or lack of it) and it's not driven by the esteem or derision of men. It's not relationships in the world, it's not the economy, but rather our relationship with God that satisfies, no matter what our state.

Father, help us to see the blessings you give in all our circumstances & to be your blessing to others. Let us want in the sense of always desiring more of what you have for us, yet being full because we are completely contented with what You've already given us. We want to always abound, even when we are abased. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

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