Living For the Next Big Thing
Read Philippians 4:10-12 (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. 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.
Are there areas in your life where you are struggling with discontentment?
So many of us are always living for the next big thing. We get through the week because we are looking forward to the weekend. We sludge our way through work because it funds our pursuit of a better house, a better car, nicer clothes, etc. But we are really just looking forward to retirement. How many of us can say that we are truly content with what we have? And what if what we do have was taken from us? Would we be able to cope if we were just barely getting by?
In today’s verse, Paul says he knows the secret of contentment and it’s not in getting everything we want. The secret is rejoicing in the Lord and depending on Him. The Philippian church had been a trustworthy supporter of his ministry and supplied many of his needs. But at some point, they were no longer able to offer that support until Epaphroditus delivered another gift from them (Phil. 4:18). We don’t know the exact circumstances, but for quite some time, the Philippians were not able to get an offering to him. But Paul wasn’t complaining! He was thankful that they were once again able to help him. Regardless, he knew he would have been ok with or without the gift.
Paul had figured out how to be content in any situation. If he had plenty to eat or if he was hungry, he knew that He was in the will of the Lord in that moment. If he was humbly getting by or if he prospered, he was truly satisfied. He knew that no matter what, God was in control of his life. The Lord knew what he needed and Paul trusted Him to provide it.
Paul had grasped a truth that so often eludes us. This world is not all there is. In Christ, we know there is more to life than just the here and now. So Paul held his life with an open hand.
Many of us are living for the next big thing. We want the next big trip, the next big purchase, the next major life event. But Paul wasn’t living for the next big worldly thing. He was living for the next big thing God had for him. He was living for eternity with Christ! He was not concerned with how much he had on this earth. He was concerned with what he was doing for the kingdom and he completely trusted that God would provide him with the resources he needed to be able to accomplish His purposes.
Friends, when we have an eternal perspective like Paul’s—when we are living for eternity instead of the temporal and living for His kingdom instead of building our own—we will experience peace, contentment, and joy. Whether we are in need or abundance, God sees us. He knows what we have and he knows what we lack. And he has a plan to provide for us in order that we can complete the jobs He has for us until He calls us home.
Do you struggle with discontent? Are there areas in your life that you need to hold with an open hand? Do you find yourself in an endless cycle of pursuing the next big thing? Ask God to change your heart and give you true satisfaction in Him. I can guarantee that the next big thing won’t be bigger or better than Him and what He has to offer.
Lord, I know that I often pursue all of the wrong things. I struggle with contentment because I am focused on living for myself instead of living for You. Give me an eternal perspective. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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