Walking the Walk
“I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…” –Phil. 4:12b
Lucky for us the Apostle Paul, in his closing remarks to the church at Philippi, didn’t keep the secret of how to be content to himself. No, he readily admits that his attitude comes from none other than Jesus himself. But I’m especially captivated by his admission that contentment was something he ‘learned.’ Which means it most likely didn’t come easily or naturally, for him or for us.
No one who has access to a computer, a cell phone, or a television could have missed the story of the attempted seizure of the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021 by an angry mob of protesters. And with each replaying of the violence over the next few days, I couldn’t help but be dismayed by the level of discontentment that has seized so many in our country.
Discontentment defined, of course, is unhappiness caused by the failure of one’s hopes, desires, and expectations. Paul certainly experienced it as he labored night and day to share the good news of the Gospel, often finding himself ridiculed, mocked, beaten, and imprisoned for his efforts. But in every circumstance, he shunned violence and instead turned to prayer, fasting, and speaking the truth in love. Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, he said and modeled again and again. And with each trial it seems his understanding of contentment grew.
There’s an old song that I first sang when I was in eighth or ninth grade that says, Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me. While it seems that achieving peace on earth is nothing more than an elusive dream at the moment, following the Prince of Peace in every way, every day, is a choice given to us by God. Will we walk the walk of disappointment, dissention, and discontentment, dwelling on the negative things we can’t change? Or will we choose to walk as life-long learners of the secret Paul discovered—Christ in us, the hope of glory?