I have no lack

Treasure Or Thorns?

“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:18, NASB

Concluding this week with the whole idea of lacking nothing, I’m drawn back to where we began–to the concept of contentment in Christ. Why is that simple statement such a challenging practice.

Several years ago I was doing a study Jesus’s parables and I came to the parable of the sower in Matthew 13. I have such a distinct memory of this study because, while I’d known this parable most of my life, I’d missed some of Jesus’s explanation–specifically about the ‘thorns that choke (the seed) out.’

“And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke out the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” Matthew 13:22, NASB

This reveled something profound to my middle-class American heart, something that I am reminded of today as I reflect on the struggle for contentment: the more I have, the harder it is.

Jesus wisely told his followers to seek His kingdom above all things. He also said to set our hearts on heavenly treasure, because where we focus the delight of our heart will be where our heart flourishes, and where it will want to stay.

Concluding the week, I’m going to chew on that for a while.

Jesus, please keep reminding me that I lack nothing in you, and teach me to guard my heart so that I don’t make treasure out of rust and thorns, but rather set my delight in You.

I have no lack

Together, We Lack Nothing

I always thank my God for you because of God’s grace given to you in Christ Jesus, that by Him you were enriched in everything – in all speech and all knowledge.  In this way the testimony about Christ was confirmed in you, so that you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. I Corinthians 1:4-7

The English language needs a plural word for plural “you.”  Every other language I’ve studied has one. But English-speakers?  We have to make them up.  “Ya’all.  You-uns.  Yous. You guys.”  None of them really work right.

These verses lose their punch if you don’t realize Paul was addressing a group of people, specifically a bickering church.  When he says “you do not lack any spiritual gift,” he means “ya’all” (Apologies to Northerners.  I grew up in Florida and live in Texas.)

The Corinthian congregation was fighting.  Each faction thought they were absolutely right and the folks across the aisle were completely wrong.  Harsh words had flown. Feelings had been hurt. And so Paul writes them a letter and tells them: “You (plural) have everything you need, all speech and knowledge.  And you (plural) don’t lack any spiritual gift.” 

Individually, none of those believers had all the gifts.  Individually, none of them had all the knowledge.  But, together, they lacked nothing.  God meant for them to be together, to be a church, to each contribute his or her spiritual gifts and understanding for the good of the whole.

One by one, they lacked what they needed to live godly lives and understand what was right.  But together, they lacked nothing.

And the same is true today, is it not? We may not like every person in church with us.  We may not agree with their perspectives.  But we need them to be complete.

The church: Jesus’ Bride.  I am thankful to be a part of that.

I have no lack, Uncategorized

Thirsty

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. ~2 Peter 1:3-4, NIV

Sitting in the library, working with some kids that I have in AWANA, time affords some interesting conversations. My daughter was working on verses that answer the question “What do I need to know about the future?” These, in particular, were addressing prophesies of tribulation and end times. Rote memorization means nothing without context, so I always make sure that the kids (whether my own or someone else’s) understand what we’re learning. So, with four or five other kids listening, as well as my friend, who happens to be the children’s librarian, we went over what the Bible says about the last days.

Tribulation? What does that mean? Hardship, a time of great trial and suffering. Why would God allow that? Explain that to ten-year-olds.

I think of thirst, but we’ll come back to that.

I have that conversation in my head this morning as I mull over our verse for today. Maybe not linear thinking, but this is how my mind wanders. Forgive me as I meander. I have everything I need for life and godliness. Cerebrally, I know this. But in the everyday stuff—huh. Why do I feel a lack? Not materially, but spiritually. So many days I lack vision, purpose. I feel void of passion, or rather, I quite honestly feel exhausted. But Peter claims that as a Spirit-baptized believer, I have all that I that I need.

So why do I feel insufficient? And how come, no matter what kind of goals I set or accomplishments I attain, am I ever seeking more?

Back to the idea of thirst. God designed our physical bodies to thirst, because we need water to live. We can choose to try to quench that thirst with soda, sugar drinks or coffee, but the reality is, what we need is water.

Why would I feel spiritually deficient? Maybe for the same reason our tongues get painfully parched when we are on the verge of dehydration. Thirst points to the need—and by its warning life can be saved. Similarly, Spiritual thirst acts as a warning, so that I am aware of my need for the Spirit’s life sustaining power.

Thirst points me to HIM—because it is in HIM that I have everything I need.

I have no lack

Looking for Satisfaction in All the Wrong Places

For the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ, and you have been filled by Him, who is the head over every ruler and authority.  Colossians 2:9-10

Too often, I live my life as though this was not true.  I walk about discouraged, disappointed and wishing there was something more to make me happier.  And when I’m in that frame of mind, the “something more” is never God himself.  It’s something tangible — a different situation, more time to write, a published book.  “I lack these things, God.  Please give them.”

Yet, none of those things would satisfy me.  God has already given me everything to meet my heart’s cry.  He tells me so in these verses.  Think about it:

  1. All of God is in Jesus
  2. Jesus has filled me
  3. Thus all of God has filled me.

If the very God of the universe, the creator of everything, is filling me, there certainly isn’t any empty space inside of me.  There is no lack. 

I only feel the lack when I ignore the fullness, when I take my eyes off Jesus, when I begin to dwell on things that are not Him.  Certainly I lack many things that are not Him – a new car, perfect feet (one of mine is injured) everything in Penny’s or Neiman Marcus or … well, I don’t have those things.  I lack them.

But neither do I need them.  All I need is Jesus, and he has given me all of Himself.  And when I dwell on that, I am content. 

To the depths of my soul.

I have no lack

I Have No Lack: A Joint Post

“I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot.  In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content – whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need.  I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me. … And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:11-12, 19 HCS

From Susan:

I once heard a preacher say that no true believer in Jesus Christ would ever be hungry, and he quoted the last part of this verse to prove it.  “God will supply all your needs.”  His statement left me puzzled, because I’ve known true believers in West Africa who went through famine with the rest of their villages.

So, I looked into the context.  Check out the first part of it above.  Paul – that would be the apostle Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament – had been hungry and in need. He wrote these words as part of a thank-you note to the Philippians who had sent him some money.

It wasn’t that Paul never had an unmet need.  It was that he had learned to be content in Christ’s strength when his physical needs were quite real and not immediately taken care of.  Contentment is a powerful choice.  “I don’t have this thing I need, this thing I’ve prayed for, and yet … I choose to be okay with that, because I do have Christ, and He alone is sufficient.”

And when we suffer the lack, we can then rejoice when God provides.

From Jen:

It’s interesting to see how often Philippians 4:12 is quoted. In all sorts of settings and situations, we hear and/or see this verse being quoted. Not necessarily wrong, but it does set a contrast to consider the context, as Susan pointed out.

Paul was not always strong—we know for sure he suffered some sort of ailment that would not go away. He was not always well fed, or even just fed at all. He did not always know comfort, either physically or emotionally as he was imprisoned and abandoned on more than one occasion. Yet, he penned these words—that through Christ he could do what he’d been commissioned to do; through Christ his needs were always met.

I read a book once that gently rebuked those who would say, ‘I can do this because, hey, it could be worse.’ Took me by surprise, but as I continued reading, I began to understand the point. It was this: what happens when it is worse? Comparative contentment is a slippery-slope. The Christian shouldn’t rejoice because comparatively, we’ve got it pretty good. Stripped down to the bones, that kind of thinking points to a love for God because of what He can do for us—not a pure love for Him because of who He is. That’s something akin to saying I love my husband because he brings me chocolate. He does, but that’s not why I love him. This is the grinding point: I am content because He loves me. That’s all.

If I have Christ, then I lack nothing. I have all that I need.