<strong><em><sup>11 </sup></em></strong><em>Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. <strong><sup>12 </sup></strong>I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. <strong><sup>13 </sup></strong>I can do all things through him who strengthens me.</em>
Philippians 4:11-13 (NRSV)
The Rev Doyle Masters sadly died at the young age of 48. When faced with the doctor’s prognosis for his condition a letter he sent out to his congregation reflects the strength he had found in Christ.
<em>“The options open to me medically are minimal and at best do not promise renewed energy nor longevity. The other option is to turn this over to God in faith for His healing and ultimate will. This we have been directed to do by God after much prayer and spiritual surrender. What the future holds we do not know, but we know God holds it.”</em>
<em>“My gratitude overflows for a faith that is unwavering in the face of seemingly unsurmountable obstacles, and for the personal practice of prayer that brings all God’s promises to bear in any situation.”</em>
Doyle had clearly come to know that he had an all-sufficient Christ. Paul witnesses to the same strength he had found in Christ in Philippians 4. He had learned to be content in all circumstances. The church in Philippi had provided for Paul so much in the past (see Acts 16:15, Phil 4:15 and 2 Cor 11:9). But in a prison system where prisoners must secure their own food supply, he had plenty of opportunity to go <em>hungry</em>.
Paul <em>learned the secret</em> of both sides to life, he’s neither reveling in the one nor complaining of the other. His various hardship lists make it clear he had experienced “plenty” of “want.” But in contrast to some of the cynics, he did not choose “want” as a way of life, so as to demonstrate himself superior rather he had learned to accept whatever came his way, knowing that his life was not conditioned by either.
His relationship to Christ made them both essentially irrelevant. Thus he concludes: <em>I can do everything through him who gives me strength</em>. For Paul “self-sufficiency” becomes contentment because of his “Christ-sufficiency.” In the midst of their own present difficulties, here is what the Philippians too should learn of life in Christ, that being “in him who enables” means to be “content” whatever their circumstances.
‘I don’t know how I’m going to handle this’ is a typical human response we all say, but what Paul says here is that in Christ you can.
One of the best sermons the Rev Doyle preached during his life was amazing for its simplicity and profoundness, His theme was “One Day at a Time.” In it he makes three points…
Today is all you have, Today is all you need and Today is all you can handle.
What powerful thoughts and what a legacy to leave his friends. We can live with greater intention and purpose if we keep in mind that this day is all we have. We can only live now, and so we must make the most of it.
To know that today is all we need helps us to focus our lives creatively. There are many things we can do and need to do today. Even in relation to our larger plans and life goals, there are some steps that we can take today—and those are the only steps we need to take.
Today may be all we can handle—but in Christ we can handle today. True freedom comes when we take our anxious eyes off the future, when we cease anticipating all the problems and difficulties of tomorrow and focus our energy on the present!
May you know that Christ’s power is sufficient for every day and his strength to live for Him today.