July 20, 2010
It's Not About You
"But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NIV)
In his popular book The Purpose Driven Life, author and pastor Rick Warren makes one point very clear, "It's not about you." In a world where pursuing personal comfort and happiness is an obsession, many of us chafe and choke at the thought of any struggle or pain invading our lives. The thought that the world wasn't created just to keep us happy and comfortable seems counter intuitive to today's thinking. It can be difficult to swallow the fact that God is not most interested in our comfort, but more interested in our character.
To put this in perspective, I recently reread the trials and tribulations of the apostle Paul. It is eye opening to discover the very things we dread and run from in our lives are precisely where Paul found his contentment. Look at his words in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. He's essentially saying: I am content when I lose. I am content when I am weak. I am content when I'm insulted. I am content when I endure hardships. I am content with persecutions. I am content with difficulties.
How can this be true? Paul shares his discovery: Because when I am weak, then I am strong. Paul's stunning contentment is a clear example of the way we should live our lives content in everything. This happens when we allow the divine strength available through the power of the Holy Spirit to permeate our human frailties and weaknesses.
Did you catch that? Paul's prescription for contentment is an attitude of unselfish humility. I think it's important to note Paul's selfless and humble attitude helped him see his imprisonment as a divine appointment.
Had I been imprisoned under Paul's circumstances, I'm sure I would have moaned and groaned, demanding the guards give me special treatment.
Mirroring the life of Christ, Paul empties himself of "self" and allows unselfish humility to drive his attitude and his actions. This is the first step to learning contentment. Paul encourages all believers to go one step further. "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe" (Philippians 2:14-15, NIV). Think about that for a moment; a life that lacks grumbling, complaining or arguing leaves room for only one thing…joy!
As we exchange our selfish attitude for one of joyful humility others will take note and be drawn closer to Christ. Friends, as we allow God to work in the midst of our brokenness and inability His strength rushes in to fulfill our need. Let's make a commitment to be joyfully humble for one week and experience God's transforming work in your life and in the lives of others. Living in His strength, our lives will reflect Christ and we will be content in all circumstances.
Dear Lord, You emptied Yourself of everything but love when You died on the cross for my sins and I am eternally grateful. Empower me through the Holy Spirit to be content in every circumstance or situation. Teach me to rely on Your strength and not my weakness. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
All I Need is Jesus & a Good Pair of Jeans by Susanna Foth Aughtmon
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Brokenness, Surrender, Holiness: A Revive Our Hearts Trilogy by Nancy Leigh DeMoss
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If you are in the midst of a struggle, ask God to encourage you through His Word. Write down the verses of strength you find and put your name in each one. Pray them every day this week and experience His contentment in all things.
Read Hebrews 4:16, "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" (NIV). Reflect on this verse and write down what the Lord reveals to you.
I Corinthians 1:25, "For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength." (NIV)
2 Corinthians 12:5, "I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses." (NIV)
2 Corinthians 13:4, "For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God's power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God's power we will live with him to serve you." (NIV)
© 2010 by Zoe Elmore. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Tuesday, 20 July 2010.