Thomas Edison once said, “Discontent is the first necessity of progress.” Said differently the great inventor knew that “satisfaction is the grave of progress.” With a view of what could be, Edison seems to have refused being content with what was. I’m thinking the apostle Paul shared some of that perspective.
Now, I’m not talking about discontentment with what one has. Not promoting an insatiable drive to have more, or to live in greater ease. No, to be content in “whatever situation”, whether it was “how to be brought low” or “how to abound”, was something Paul would extol (Php. 4:11-13). Such is divine contentment. But to be discontent with who one was, in light of their calling in Christ, seems to have also been a driving force of the apostle. Such is divine discontentment.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own.
(Philippians 3:12 ESV)
I press on to make it my own. That’s what I’m chewing on this morning.
Paul would “make every effort to take hold” (CSB) of the perfection God sought to manifest in his life. Though Paul was convinced that the work begun by God in his life would be brought to completion by God (Php. 1:6) — the work of conforming Paul into the likeness of His Son (Rom. 8:29) — Paul was equally convinced that he was to take hold of that which God offered in Christ. Though he had been born again, he wasn’t content with being a babe. Instead, he wanted to attain “to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13). And so, he would press on to make it his own.
Not content with just being saved, he also counted everything loss for “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Php. 3:8). Not ready to rest on the laurels of all that he had already accomplished for the kingdom, he would “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Php. 3:14). He knew, regardless of how far he had come, that he wasn’t there yet. There was a divine discontentment. And so Paul pressed on to make it his own.
But the other part of this divine drive to make it his own, was that it was fueled by Paul’s ever awareness that Christ Jesus had already claimed Paul as His own.
He had been bought with a price (1Cor. 6:19-20). He no longer held the title to his life. He had been made a new creation (1Cor. 5:17). Life was no longer about the same old, same old. With a new heart and a new mind came a new set of goals, the prize of the upward call.
No longer a slave to sin, Paul was indwelt with the Holy Spirit so that it was no longer he who lived, but Christ who lived in him (Gal. 2:20). New power had been provided for pressing on to lay hold of the perfection that had already been credited to him in Christ. As such, Paul desired more and more of that perfection to be manifested through him for Christ.
Oh, to know divine discontentment. Not that it would disturb my rest in Christ, but that it would provide fertile soil which would bear much fruit. That my every effort would be used of the Spirit to realize the full potential of His finished work. Making it my own because He has made me His own.
By His grace. For His glory.