Thermometer or Thermostat?
I've noticed that the world is filled with two kinds of people: those who are like thermometers and those who are like thermostats. The "thermostats" regulate their surroundings, staying steady so that the environment does not control them. On the other hand, the "thermometers" change with the situation, going up or down emotionally and spiritually depending upon the circumstances.
I don't know about you, but I'd rather be a thermostat like the Apostle Paul. He had bad weeks, good weeks, times of prosperity, and times of poverty. His environment was always in flux. Yet, instead of rising and falling with the state of his outward conditions, he was inwardly steadfast.
Paul wrote in Philippians 4, "I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:11-13).
What was the secret to Paul's consistency in good times and bad? Contentment. It's a good lesson for all of us. Unfortunately, contentment is not something we're born with. As Paul said, contentment is something we must learn. And that lesson comes through the happenings and hardships, the ups and downs of life.
Paul was a man who had experienced many ups and downs in his life. He was born of excellent lineage, given an outstanding education, was a leader among the Jewish elite, and was a Roman citizen. However, after his conversion to Christianity, he was forced to flee several towns, attacked by mobs, shipwrecked, and imprisoned for his faith. Truly, Paul had experienced many highs and lows in his life.
So how did he survive the trials and spread the good news of the gospel? He said it clearly, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." I love it that he didn't say, "some things" or "a few things." He said, "all things." The bottom line is simple: Christ in us strengthens us to do everything He calls us to do. Jesus won't abandon us in the hard times; He'll walk with us through them. We can find great contentment in that truth.
What about you? Has life turned up the heat? Are you responding like a thermometer, going hot or cold depending on the circumstances? Or are you allowing Christ to consistently regulate your life? This week, let Jesus be your thermostat. When things get hot, remember to say, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."