Whether you’re a follower of Christ or not, I bet you’ve heard this verse before:
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
-Philippians 4:13 (ESV)
I’ve generally seen this verse used in the context of being strong or able to accomplish great things. But do you know what it says right before that verse?
The Apostle Paul writes the following in his letter to the church in Philippi:
10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
– Philippians 4:10-13 (NIV)
You see, read in context, this verse is really not about being strong or accomplishing great things. It’s about contentment.
Contentment. Yeah, maybe 2000 years ago, but in this day and age? What is that? In this “gotta have it now”, smart-phone-driven, “just Google it” world that we live in, what value is there in contentment?
Let’s back up a bit. Earlier this year, before I started back on the Carbohydrate Addict’s Diet, I was really struggling with the concept of “fullness”. It didn’t seem to matter how much I ate, I was never full. I was so frustrated that I sat down at my computer and pounded out a big, long rant about the futility of the pursuit of fullness. I felt better after ranting, but it still didn’t solve my problem.
Thankfully, I remembered the Carb Addict’s Diet, bought the book again (I must have given away my old copy) and got back on it. Turns out that insulin is one of the most powerful “drugs” available and it’s manufactured right here inside this amazing human body of ours. I’ve heard it said that food addiction might be the most difficult addiction to deal with because we can’t just go “cold turkey” and stop eating. It must be managed and it’s crazy hard to do.
I had been on the Carb Addict’s Diet for five years (2008 to 2013) and loved it, but in 2013 I found out that I had a gluten problem. I was in so much pain that I hired a Functional Medicine doctor and a health coach and I completely changed the way I ate. If you’re interested, you can read more about it here: Salsa Chicken
Through that whole endeavor, I solved my gluten issue, but I created an insulin monster that was getting harder and harder to tame. Thankfully, in April 2017, I had enough knowledge, along with a gentle reminder from Jesus, to put myself back on the Carb Addict’s Diet, without the gluten madness, and the insulin monster has once again been tamed. Thank you, Lord!
But that process got me thinking about the concept of fullness, or the pursuit of filling that “hole in our soul”, instead of living in contentment. And I came to the conclusion that, on this planet, we are always going to feel a little empty. We’re always going to want one more thing, one more toy, one more taste, one more nap, one more show, one more laugh, one more hug, fill in the blank: one more, one more, one more.
Vince Antonucci from Verve Church in Las Vegas said that God longs to fill us because He knows that we leak. No matter how full we are, we leak. And we need to be filled again. Vince’s solution? Go to God and let Him fill you. But don’t stop there. Vince encourages us to ask God two questions, every day:
“How do you want to love me today? Who do you want to love through me today?”
I love it. I love the focus. But if I may, I would like to tweak those questions just a bit. Because I think that asking one time per day isn’t enough. We lose focus much too easily. And it seems that the more challenging our day is, the faster we “leak”. How about:
“Lord, how do you want to love me right now? Who do you want to love through me right now?”
If we could ask those two questions over and over again, all day long, listening for the answer and doing what He says, what kind of world would we live in? If we were to let God fill us and then take that love and pass it along to someone else, I bet we’d feel a lot more full, a lot more complete, than filling ourselves by our own devices.
So, let’s do it. Let’s let Him love us and pass that love along. Let’s not fill ourselves completely, but leave room for God to fill us. Let’s not focus on what we don’t have, but instead thank Him for what we do have. I believe God wants us to want what we already have. We may not feel like it’s enough, but it is. We can do this through Him who gives us strength. This is contentment. This is enough for now.
King David said it this way, a few thousand years ago. I think it still applies today:
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
– Psalm 37:4 (ESV)