I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content. —Philippians 4:11
Boethius lived in sixth-century Italy and served the royal court as a highly skilled politician. Unfortunately, he fell into disfavor with the king. He was accused of treason and imprisoned. While awaiting execution, he asked for writing materials so he could compose his reflections. Later, these became an enduring spiritual classic on consolation.
As Boethius sat in prison, pondering his bleak prospects, his faith in Christ infused his perspective: “Nothing is miserable but what is thought so, and contrariwise, every estate is happy if he that bears it be content.” He understood that our view of changing circumstances and contentment is a personal choice.
The apostle Paul reinforced the idea that the way we view our circumstances is more important than the circumstances themselves. While he too was in prison, he wrote: “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content” (Phil. 4:11). Both men could be content because they drew their ultimate satisfaction from God, who never changes.
Do you feel chained to difficult circumstances? God can give you contentment. Lasting satisfaction can be found only with Him, for in His “presence is fullness of joy; at [His] right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11). —Dennis Fisher
Lord, lead me today as You see best. Use the gifts You’ve given me to encourage others on their journey. Help me not to compare myself with others but to be content.
When all you have is God, you have all you need.
I have nicknamed our car “No Grace.” Sunday mornings are the worst. I load the car with all the stuff I need for church, get myself in my seat, close the door, and Jay starts backing out of the garage. While I am still getting settled, the seat belt warning starts buzzing. “Please,” I say to it, “all I need is another minute.” The answer, apparently, is no, because it continues buzzing until I am buckled in.
This minor annoyance is a good reminder of what life would be like if indeed there were no grace. Each of us would immediately be called to account for every indiscretion. There would be no time for repentance or change of behavior. There would be no forgiveness. No mercy. No hope.
Living in this world sometimes feels like falling into a no-grace sinkhole. When minor flaws are blown up into major indiscretions or when people refuse to overlook the faults and offenses of others, we end up burdened by the weight of guilt that we were never meant to carry. God, in His grace, sent Jesus to carry the burden for us. Those who receive God’s gift of grace have the privilege of offering it to others on Christ’s behalf: “Above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins’” (1 Peter 4:8). —Julie Ackerman
Father God, the culture around us can seem so
harsh and hard on people when they fail. Help
me to show grace and patience, because You have
been gracious to me and have forgiven my sin.
When we gratefully acknowledge the grace we’ve received, we joyfully give it to those in need.
I will lift up my eyes to the hills—from whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. —Psalm 121:1-2
Atop Corcovado Mountain overlooking the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, stands Christ the Redeemer, one of the tallest statues of Christ in the world. Standing 30 meters tall, with arms spreading 28 meters, this sculpture weighs 635 metric tons. It can be seen day or night from almost anywhere in the city. One look to the hills brings this figure of Christ the Redeemer into view.
The New Testament tells us that Christ is not only the Redeemer, but He is also the Creator of the universe, and that Creator is in view in Psalm 121. There the psalmist challenges us to lift our eyes to the hills to see God, for our “help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (vv.1-2). He alone is sufficient to be our strength and to guide our steps as we make our way through a dangerous and troubled world.
We lift our eyes to the One who keeps us (v.3), guards us (vv.5-6), and overshadows us in the face of all types of danger. He preserves us from evil and keeps us safely in His care for all eternity (vv.7-8).
In faith, we lift our eyes to the One who is our Redeemer and Creator. He is our help and our hope and our eternal home. —Bill Crowder
O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home! —Watts
Christ was lifted up that He might lift us up.