Rejoice in the Lord – A Third Time! – Thermometers & Thermostats
“10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 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. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:10-13 NIV
Yes, this is the third devotion I’m writing from the letter to the Philippians with the same title – Rejoice in the Lord! Of course this emphasizes an ongoing theme in the letter of Paul’s.
I’d like to begin this devotion with a question:
Are you a thermometer or a thermostat?
A thermometer doesn’t change anything around it. It simply reads and registers the temperature. If it is a hot day, it tells you how hot the day is. If it is a cold day, the thermometer tells how cold it is. The thermometer changes nothing around it. It has no power. It simply responds to its surroundings. A thermometer is just there because it lacks the power to change things.
A thermostat is different. A thermostat controls its surroundings and changes things when it needs to be changed. If a room is too hot, turn down the thermostat and you will make it cooler. If the room is too cold, turn up the thermostat and you will make it warmer. A thermostat doesn’t just read the temperature. It holds the power to change and regulate the temperature around it.
Allow me to ask the question again, “Are you a thermometer or a thermostat?”
Paul the Apostle was a thermostat. Rather than having spiritual ups and downs based on his surroundings and changes in situations, Paul insisted on being steadfast in serving Christ and reaching out to others. He wasn’t changed by his surroundings. He exercised his authority in Christ to change his surroundings!
To many Christians settle for being thermometers. Too many of us settle for observing situations around us and responding to it. Too many of us don’t exercise the power we have in the Holy Spirit to change things and to be changed no matter the circumstances.
The famous verse, Philippians 4:13, which says, “13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength” seems often to be misunderstood. We can take this verse out of context to mean that we are “super-Christians” who can overcome anything because Paul said so. In context however, we need to understand that Paul was saying that Christ gave him strength to be content in whatever circumstance he found himself in. In Christ, Paul found the power to be a thermostat that would change the environment around him, rather than being overcome by it.
Philippians 4:13, “13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength” must always be viewed in light of John 15:5, which says, “for without Me you can do nothing.”
Far too many times dear Lord I fall prey to being affected by my surroundings rather than affecting it myself. Too many times I have been tired and dismayed because of what is going on around me rather than finding my strength and my hope in You. I repent today. I turn my mind and heart back to You today. May I be the thermostat that changes everything around me today. In the powerful name of Jesus Christ I pray, amen.