Living in materialistic society brings about a variety of results. We experience an immense amount of provision and comfort. Many people in the world go without basic necessities. Their day is often entirely consumed with the attempt to obtain a sparse amount of food and water. Often basic necessities such as shelter, clothing and healthcare are unobtainable luxuries. Yet, we are the ones moaning and complaining.
2 Corinthians 6:4-10 (CSB)
4 Instead, as God’s ministers, we commend ourselves in everything: by great endurance, by afflictions, by hardships, by difficulties, 5 by beatings, by imprisonments, by riots, by labors, by sleepless nights, by times of hunger, 6 by purity, by knowledge, by patience, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love,7 by the word of truth,[a] by the power of God; through weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, 8 through glory and dishonor, through slander and good report; regarded as deceivers, yet true; 9 as unknown, yet recognized; as dying, yet see—we live; as being disciplined, yet not killed; 10 as grieving, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet enriching many; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.
I does not take long to get acclimated to comfort. Comfort is not wrong, but it must be kept in perspective. The kind of life we live is rare in history and in the world. It is also a rarity that many Christians around the world don’t have. As a result of this affluence, we are often mistaken as to what is really necessary. We feel like we are suffering when we cannot have all the things we want, or when things don’t go our way. We often tie God’s favor an blessing to this material comfort.
Paul did not minister out of a position of comfort and affluence. The Acts of the Apostles gives us a window in to the kind of affliction, hardship, and various difficulties he encountered. We see him beaten, imprisoned, and reviled time and time again. What the letters he wrote reveal his true perspective of the earthly situations he experienced. In Philippians we see him rejoicing despite his imprisonment and preaching the gospel to the audience he was given. He is writing this letter late in life from prison, probably in Rome. The Romans would eventually put him to death. When Paul first visits Philippi on his second missionary journey he is beaten and thrown in jail. His chains are loosed in the middle of the night, but he does not escape. Instead, he preaches to the jailer who believes. The next day when they try to run him out of town he stands up to them.
How does Paul persevere and continue on with joy and victory? He knew he possessed the best thing. He states in the letter to the Philippians that he knows both want and plenty. How? Because he gets his strength from Christ. You see he knows that he possesses EVERYTHING.
Our challenge? We need to practice daily thanksgiving. The things in this world can vanish in an instant. We need to take the time to remind ourselves that we posses Christ….and that my friends is EVERYTHING.