The wonderful ladies who teach my boys about God on Sunday mornings gave them each a brown paper sack of goodies the week before Christmas.
As we climbed into the car, my youngest son was delighted to show me all his loot. It was fun to see the sparkle in his eyes as he pulled out gum and candy canes and other sweet treats. The apple and cutie he handed to me with little more than a groan.
Then he caught a glimpse of his brother’s bag that appeared just a little fuller than his own.
I think it was because brother’s bag still had the fruit inside, but the damage was done.
In the time it took him to look from his own bag to his brother’s, his happiness was shattered.
“But he got MOOOORE,” my son cried as tears began to fill his big blue eyes and his bottom lip curled outward.
How many times do I catch myself reacting the same way?
I can be thrilled with all that’s going on in my life. And then I bump into somebody who has just a little more. Or bigger. Or better.
More words published. More time with her husband. More meaningful ministry.
Bigger house. Bigger social media following. Bigger love for others.
Better self-control. Better wardrobe. Better work out regimen.
Of course I realize My Cup Runneth Over. I know how good I’ve got it. And most of the time, that’s enough for me. But, I confess, every once in a while, I get knocked down by a sucker punch in my own battle with comparison.
Sometimes it hurts to realize that where I am and what I have is exactly what God has chosen for me. Especially, when it appears as though others get much more. Yet so many receive far less. It can be hard to remember He has presented each of us with all we ever really need.
Paul knew this. Not in the way I know it sitting comfortably in my brick house on a hill with two reliable cars in the driveway. But in the way someone who has nothing knows Truth. Look at the words he wrote while imprisoned for his efforts to spread the gospel:
“I am not saying this because I am in need,
for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
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.”
Philippians 4:11-12 NIV
Interestingly enough, the word used for content here refers to being self-sufficient and was used in Stoic philosophy to “describe a person who dispassionately accepted whatever circumstances brought.” (1)
Yet, Paul is not saying that he is content because of any self-sufficiency. In verse 13, he goes on to say that it is Christ who makes Him able to find contentment in all circumstances. He is able to endure, withstand, persevere in any situation because Christ gives him the strength He needs to be content with what he has. He looks to Christ instead of at those around him. He doesn’t need to compare his circumstances with any one else’s because in Christ He has everything.
Comparison tricks us into always wanting more, but contentment makes what we have enough.
With Christ, we have all we’ll ever need, but without Him everything we could ever want is worthless.
Instead of comparing earthly treasure, let’s find contentment in the incomparably rich inheritance we have in Christ.
Dear Father, I praise You for the Indescribable Gift you have given us in Your Son. Help me to look to the riches of the inheritance I have in Him when I’m tempted to compare my circumstances with that of those around me. Forgive me when I forget all You have blessed me with is enough. In Jesus Name, Amen.
“I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”
Philippians 4:13 NIV
(1) Nelson Study Bible (NKJV), Copyright 1979 by Thomas Nelson Inc., study notes for Philippians 4:11, page 2006
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