Philippians 4:11, NKJV:
Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.
Human nature leads us to be restless and dissatisfied with the challenges we face in life, but Paul overcame this nature and learned to accept his position whether he abased or abounded. In other words, Paul learned something that is contrary to human nature—contentment. Our journey as believers is filled with learning to embrace attributes and characteristics that are fundamentally contrary to our human nature.
1 John 5:2, KJV:
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.
As with Paul’s writing in Philippians, neither of John’s statements are a natural part of our human DNA. As a Christian I have gone through seasons of strong discipleship and abundant love. At other times, I can’t seem to get either one working in my life. Part of learning to keep God’s commandments is learning to love Him. This most definitely does not come naturally but must be learned through the leading of the Holy Spirit and through placing your faith and trust in Him.
Peter wrote that we are partakers of the divine nature of Christ. Through His grace and sacrifice, we have the privilege of sharing in His power. So it is with faith. We are partakers of the faith of Christ, which is our victory over the world! That faith must be exercised daily by trusting the Lord. When Jesus commanded Peter to cast out his net, Peter’s response was filled with doubt and unbelief. Peter replied, “we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
In other words, Peter wasn’t looking for any results—he was just going through the motions.
But to Peter’s astonishment, out of his obedience came a miracle. This final cast yielded so many fish that his nets began to break! This was part of Peter’s learning curve and part of the process every believer has to go through. We have to learn to trust God when we can’t track God. That’s when real faith arises and our love and obedience toward God grows.
Keeping God’s commandments is not just about refraining from evil—it’s about being led by His spirit into all truth. For God’s power to be realized in our lives, we have to place a demand on our faith in Jesus for all things and trust Him without exception.
John instructed us to know the Spirit of God. If your Christian walk is consumed with trying to abstain from evil, you’re not focused on learning the way of God’s Spirit. However, if you spend each day in search of new encounters with Christ, the things of this world will not seem as important as they once did—you’ll learn to be content with your life and to have faith in Him for your future. He has a plan for your life so never be afraid to challenge your own faith and follow Jesus.
One of my favorite old hymns says to trust and obey. Sounds a lot like John’s message to me—love leads to keeping His commandments. You will learn to truly love Jesus just as you are learning to obey and trust in Him. It’s a process for every believer.
Be encouraged in the power of His might and all things will work to your favor!
– Ps. Ken
Pastor Ken is the senior pastor of Spirit Life Church in Piqua, Ohio. You can hear his messages online at the media page of Spirit Life Church’s website or by subscribing to his weekly podcast sermon podcast.