A CLOSER WALK
Here in the USA we seem to be on a continuing quest to acquire more stuff. Newer stuff, bigger stuff, better stuff. More and more stuff. But is that really what we need? Must we be unrelenting in trying to acquire more and more stuff?
"...for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need," Philippians 4:11-12 NASB. The Apostle Paul apparently had experienced want as well as prosperity. In most all circumstances and situations experience is helpful.
Having experienced something provides us with knowledge and wisdom regarding that circumstance or situation. For example, if you decide to go whitewater rafting, do you want a guide who has never been in a boat, or one who has been down this same river one hundred times or more? Clearly the experienced guide would be the most helpful. He, or she, would know which rapids are safe enough for inexperienced guests, and which to avoid altogether. The guide would also know where and how to enter each rapid, so as to make it through and keep everyone safe, while still providing an exhilarating and rewarding trip down the river.
It is the same with us. There is no substitute for experience. First time Olympic athletes sometimes stumble. As we walk our path of life, our Lord will provide us with experiences. These experiences help us gain knowledge, then wisdom. In our future we will have a better understanding of how to handle the same or a similar circumstance or situation, because of our experience.
One person said that there is a guaranteed way to have everything you want. And that way is to want less. Being content with what we have enables us to experience more peace since we aren't on this constant quest to acquire stuff, just for stuffs' sake. Being content with what we have may help us to determine and separate needs from wants. A Pastor once referred to this as "needs and greeds." He was saying that getting something doesn't always come from our need for that particular thing, but sometimes can come from our old nature of greed, or envy, or jealousy. To be content with what we have we could practice discerning between needs and greeds.
The passage says that the Apostle had learned to live in humble means and in prosperity. An older, and wiser brother in Christ once said that between humble means and prosperity, the most difficult to live with is prosperity. During prosperity we tend to think that we brought this about because of our own efforts. This can lead us to think we don't need God today because we are doing so well on our own. This time of prosperity, like many other times of life, may pass. But our need for our Heavenly Father will not.
Being content with what we have may mean learning to live in humble times, as well as in prosperous times. It may also mean learning to want less. Being able to discern between needs and greeds can also be helpful to us. Ultimately we desire to be more like Jesus, and to be pleasing to our Heavenly Father who sent Him.
We are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.