Put the Right Stuff In
When you squeeze a sponge you’ll see very quickly what it’s been absorbing. If it’s been used to soak up something dirty, oh it’ll be something dirty coming out when it’s squeezed. If you just put a clean sponge into clean water, it’ll just be clean water coming out when it’s squeezed. It’s the same with a person. What we’ve been absorbing is what will come out when we’re squeezed.
The Word makes it very clear that we will face trials (1 Peter 1:6, James 1:2). The Apostle Paul had this figured out. He knew what this looked like, more than most of us ever will. But look at Philippians 4:12 (NKJV), “I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” What was Paul saying here? He knew how to be squeezed the right way! Sure, it’s easy to respond correctly to good circumstances but it’s when we face the press, the lack, the illness, the fear, that what’s in us will truly come out.
Do you know how to abound? Well, most of us would say “sure”, but as Christians we should expect both blessing and trials. Neither should move us. We should not be shocked by either. Just as we’ve learned to expect both rainy days and sunshine, we need to learn to expect times of trial mixed in with the times of sunshine, while not curling up in a ball and crying every time it storms a little. If the report comes back from the doctor saying we’re cancer free, although we rejoice, it shouldn’t surprise us. If the money comes in to pay that bill right before it’s due, we shouldn’t be surprised it came. At the same time, if that colleague or family member is fighting our every move, we shouldn’t let it move us. If your body is dealing with symptoms and illness, it shouldn’t rock your faith. The sun comes out and the rain comes down, but a true Christian remains steady. Ephesians 6:11 (NKJV), “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”
The only reason the Apostle Paul could both abase and abound without losing faith is because he put the right stuff in. Philippians 4:8 (NKJV) says, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” Look at Colossians 3:2 (NKJV), “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” Now remember, Romans 10:17 (NKJV), “…faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
What are we meditating on? What do we spend our time putting in? What are we hearing and building our faith in? Whatever we put in will be what comes out. Let’s learn how to both abase and abound, sit in the sunshine and dance in the rain, all while our faith remains in Him and His Word! Amen.