We often look to those with the most wealth, power and influence as the richest people. But how rich can they be if it doesn’t bring contentment, peace or even enjoyment? I love Paul’s word regarding his own life in Philippians,
“Not that I speak from [any personal] need, for I have learned to be content [and self-sufficient through Christ, satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or uneasy] regardless of my circumstances. I know how to get along and live humbly [in difficult times], and I also know how to enjoy abundance and live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret [of facing life], whether well-fed or going hungry, whether having an abundance or being in need. I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]” Philippians 4:11-13
Paul wasn’t writing mere platitudes when he penned those words. In the Book of Acts chapter 16 we read about Paul and Silas in jail for setting the demonic slave girl free from her oppression. As a result, officials had Paul and Silas’ clothes stripped off of them, they had been beaten with rods, they were thrown in jail (in basically the inner prison…dungeon) and their feet were fastened in stocks (in an agonizing position). But about midnight Paul and Silas started praying and singing hymns of praise to God as the prisoners listened. An earthquake strikes…the jailer and his entire family come to Christ. (I encourage you to read the whole story…it is so encouraging!)
How was it even possible for Paul and Silas to be praising God in such circumstances? Paul was truly content wherever God placed him. I believe in many ways he was the richest man that ever lived because his emotions and joy were not linked to what he had or didn’t have. His happiness was not connected to good health, beautiful surroundings or financial security. Christ was Paul’s source of joy, contentment and peace. His way of life is worth emulating in a time when peace, contentment and joy are elusive.
For what does it benefit a man to gain the whole world [with all its pleasures], and forfeit his soul? Mark 8:36