Seeking Change While Content
It’s December, and it’s the season—the season for commercials to join gyms, quit smoking, and more.
At the Pocket Testament League, we even join in and invite people to begin reading God’s Word more regularly.*
For the most part, our New Year’s resolutions are aimed at helping us become better people. We want to change, to improve.
To bring about lasting change there is this little formula I remember:
Dissatisfaction with current state
plus Vision for the future State
must be greater than The resistance to change
Let’s face it—there is resistance to overcome. Change is hard…personal change can be very hard.
To accomplish the change, you are either so fed up with how things are that you blow through any resistance; or, your vision for what lies ahead is so big that it propels you through any barrier.
For me, for the change to take hold, I need more than dissatisfaction. I need a future vision. To do the hard work of changing my behavior, requires I have a better future state clearly in focus.
Today in our text we read: I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.
Here I really need to pay attention to the text. I does not say, I am content. I says, I am to be content.
Paul’s in jail. I doubt he wants to be in jail. I expect he wants to be free. Yet, as this letter, this Word of God, comes to a close, I struck by this comment. I wonder if Paul is content. Sometimes when I write, I write what I know I am to be, which is far from my current state.
In this letter, Paul has been writing about Joy. It is the letter’s theme.
We have been encouraged to be confident in God, and in God working through us. We have been encouraged to follow Jesus with humility, and to run hard… yet all of that is set in this larger context of Joy—because Christ has made us his own.
The letter frames the challenge and presents the question—can I keep this big picture reality of the Joy of Christ in mind as I work to improve—as I run after a goal?
Perhaps that is the vision of the future state I need to keep in focus, as I strive and press on. I wonder, is my following Jesus too lopsided, only looking at my dissatisfaction?
I often encourage myself, and others in my writing, to work hard at following our Lord. Today let me just encourage you to hold fast to the prize that awaits you. I describe it as complete unity with God.
How do you envision the prize that you have already won—and yet still awaits you?
*Speaking of reading God’s Word together, our next study starts tomorrow! Join me in reading through Luke’s Gospel in the New Year, and consider inviting a friend!