“I Know How to Abound”

We are now four days into the New Year and I’m feeling a bit lethargic. The sun is shining today which will help. I may be experiencing cabin fever. It’s too cold to entice me to venture out and the roads are still covered with the latest snow. It would be so easy to complain about the weather, yet each time I either complain about the weather or consider complaining, I am reminded of the Israelites complaining in the wilderness and that usually changes my mind. God has appointed the seasons and I am reminded of the abundance of my blessings, no matter what the weather is.

While watching the news last night a reporter was speaking with two homeless men. Both were young, probably in their twenties. There are shelters available for night, yet so far they were choosing not to take advantage of them. Even for the ones who do visit the shelters at night it is my understanding that there are still very few places for them to stay in the day to be out of the weather.

I’ll be honest; I can’t imagine living on the streets. I understand that in some cases people are on the streets because of their lifestyle, others are there because of economics. As I listened to the story and thought of my own blessings, I remembered the following verses.

Phil 4:12-13 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

My times of having plenty have far outweighed my times of being in need.

The following article is from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening Book and it gives me great pause for reflection and thanksgiving. I pray that in my abundance that I will not be filled with pride and that my abundance will not bring on “wantonness of spirit”, but a ready willingness to help others.

There are many who know “how to be abased” who have not learned “how to abound.” When they are set upon the top of a pinnacle their heads grow dizzy, and they are ready to fall. The Christian far oftener disgraces his profession in prosperity than in adversity. It is a dangerous thing to be prosperous. The crucible of adversity is a less severe trial to the Christian than the fining-pot of prosperity. Oh, what leanness of soul and neglect of spiritual things have been brought on through the very mercies and bounties of God! Yet this is not a matter of necessity, for the apostle tells us that he knew how to abound. When he had much he knew how to use it. Abundant grace enabled him to bear abundant prosperity. When he had a full sail he was loaded with much ballast, and so floated safely. It needs more than human skill to carry the brimming cup of mortal joy with a steady hand, yet Paul had learned that skill, for he declares, “In all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry.” It is a divine lesson to know how to be full, for the Israelites were full once, but while the flesh was yet in their mouth, the wrath of God came upon them. Many have asked for mercies that they might satisfy their own hearts’ lust. Fullness of bread has often made fullness of blood, and that has brought on wantonness of spirit. When we have much of God’s providential mercies, it often happens that we have but little of God’s grace, and little gratitude for the bounties we have received. We are full and we forget God: satisfied with earth, we are content to do without heaven. Rest assured it is harder to know how to be full than it is to know how to be hungry—so desperate is the tendency of human nature to pride and forgetfulness of God. Take care that you ask in your prayers that God would teach you “how to be full.”

“Let not the gifts Thy love bestows
Estrange our hearts from Thee.”

2 comments for ““I Know How to Abound”

  1. Meowmix
    January 6, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    “Janice, Greg and I have had this same discussion blog-to-comment! 🙂 I may be simplifying this, but I have gone back and read this passage again, beginning from v. 10 in Phillipians 4 where Paul is thanking the Phillipians for renewed support. And he says he has learned to be content whatever circumstances he’s in, whether in need or in want, hungry or well-fed. And then he makes the statement that “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” Isn’t this a statement of confidence from Paul, based on God’s providences, rather than a direct promise from God in this instance? And doesn’t this mean the same for me and you? I think Paul was saying that whichever of those circumstances he might be in, he can be okay with it because God will continue to sustain him as he has in the past.

    As for the promises lifted out of context in this book, (and Greg, you know I love you dearly and respect, more than you know, your knowledge of and insight into Scripture), but weren’t these passages written and left for us by the Holy Spirit for our learning and encouragement? If those of us who are not educated in Greek and have delved into Scripture at the depth that Bible scholars have done, cannot discern, then why do we have the book of Phillipians? Was not it written for us?

    Sorry, Janice, to use your blog as a forum, and I’m not being argumentative, either. I’m truly not. I just have to believe that a person who has not had the privilege of higher learning can pick up a Bible, read and understand enough to be saved and can read the Pauline epistles and others and glean encouragement and promises in a way that God smiles on.”

  2. January 4, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    Good thoughts, Janice! I’m not being argumentative here (at least that’s not my intent), but I remember being in first year Greek at Harding Grad School and our professor telling us this “I can do all things …” was Paul’s perspective on life after all the trials and suffering he’d been through. He went on to say there are more “promises per capita” in Philippians than any other book of Scripture. By that, he meant we pull those verses out of context and make them promises to all believers. In reality, the Bible doesn’t say that I can do all things through Christ … it says that Paul could make that claim. But the “tuition” he paid to reach that point in life is one few of us have paid.

    Just some thoughts on your thoughts. I think my Greek prof gave a completely different viewpoint on that verse.

    When I was doing counseling and hypnotherapy many years ago, I had a number of clients claim that verse as a promise … almost to the point that they needed to do very little in resolving issues, that Jesus would do it for them. I wearied of that cop out!

    Greg, don’t worry about being presenting different views on what I write. 🙂

    I try not to have a closed mind. I have never looked at verse 13 with the thought that I would not have to do what I could do to resolve any issues in my life and I hope that I have not led others to believe that either. Jesus is not a genie or a magic wand.

    I personally believe though that Jesus will never ask me to do anything or go through anything that I am unable to endure. I may indeed experience many unspeakable trials. What I get from the verse is that he will give me the strength to deal with them. They may not be pleasant and I may not like the circumstances of certain trials one bit, but I will be given the strength to carry on, to have spiritual contentment.

    My thoughts were to be careful how we may begin to live and behave in our abundance. Many can endure lean times better than prosperous times. Too often when one is living in prosperity, the thinking turns to “me’, or “I” and pride sets in and God is pushed out of the picture.

    Rev 3:17-18 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.

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