I’m not feeling very content these days. I open up the Book and begin to read.
He starts with, “Be cheerful with joyous celebration in every season of life. Let joy overflow, for you are united with the Anointed One!” and “Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing.”
Then after a heartfelt thanks to his supporters, he says, “I’m not telling you this because I’m in need, for I have learned to be satisfied in any circumstance. I know what it means to lack, and I know what it means to experience overwhelming abundance. For I’m trained in the secret of overcoming all things, whether in fullness or in hunger. And I find that the strength of Christ’s explosive power infuses me to conquer every difficulty.” (TPT)
That Paul. Who does he think he is?! :)
I am far from content. And since I’m wearing flip flops a lot, it hurts when he steps on my toes like that.
But just beyond contentment lies apathy. “If my life/marriage/job/finances are good or bad, no problem. It’s fine.” It’s like I’ve resigned any responsibility for my life. Apathy is no bueno, as my friend Kevin would say.
But wait, there’s more. In Galatians 6:4-5, we’re gifted with the advice: “Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.”
- What if I need to learn to be content while I’m learning to steward my life well?
- What if comparison and failing to take personal responsibility are the opposites of this?
- What if just beyond contentedness lies apathy and just beyond stewardship lies unbridled ambition?
In one moment, I’m confronted (we’re confronted!) with this tension that we have to manage. See, contentment is only half of the story.
Look at how the NLT reveals the Philippians text: “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.”
“I have learned the secret of living,” he says. Sign me up!
The Galatians passage tells us to take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life. I used to misunderstand the word stewardship. I thought it meant to manage. But what does it mean?
When I look at the story of the talents in Matthew 25, I notice something. The guy that was given one talent just managed it, just kept it safe, as is. He got slapped pretty hard for that. The others that received 2 and 5 talents doubled theirs. Stewardship is managing, but it’s only stewardship if you’re managing for increase! And don’t confuse stewardship with ownership. It’s all His!
But just like apathy lies beyond contentment, unbridled ambition lies beyond stewardship. We can be too driven, too obsessed, trying to define your identity by your Good Works.
And somewhere between the tension on those two, lies the secret to living.