We have all heard the phrase, “The Haves and the Have-Nots.” While many associate this time of year with gifts, time with family, and time away from work, it is also an unfortunate opportunity to polarize the “Haves” and the “Have-Nots.”
Society and the media we consume, allows us to place ourselves into one of these categories. It affects how we value and see ourselves. Every commercial with a big bow on a brand new car can place us in a category. A category of a consumer who can go out today and buy that car in cash, finance it, or struggle to buy gas. There are families happy and thankful to gather on the holidays; meanwhile, there are families battling hardships, feuding, divorce, and loss. Many are able to take time away from their jobs, while some are just grinding away to find employment. These examples aren’t just generalizations. Our community represents all of these situations and everything in between and beyond.
There is danger in believing the lies of this world – that you can be categorically placed based on your belongings or status. The dangers are on both sides. When we have the life the world tells us to have, we allow ourselves to build an ego and think that what we have is by our own doing. We set our value on what we have and pursue it beyond all else.
How Can The Bible Help
How can the book of Philippians help us navigate the abundance of advertisements and financial demands of the commercial Christmas season? Paul tells the church in Philippi about people with pursuits outside of Christ by writing,
“Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things” Philippians 3:19 (NIV)
We are also then setting our worth on things that can be taken away from us. We can lose our money, family, and jobs by matters out of our control or by our own human and sinful behavior. At that point, we are left defeated, lost, and devalued.
The danger of the other side is clear and real to many of us. We think that because we don’t have the life we see in the media or in our community that we are without blessings and value. There are endless reasons to note why these are dangerous lies to believe. Paul offers encouragement for us who feel like a “Have-Not,” but long to be a “Have.” He writes,
“But whatever were gains to me I now consider a loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.” Philippians 3:7-8 (NIV)
No matter what unattainable earthly thing we chase after, knowing Christ is far greater. A true relationship with Him requires submission of these desires.
Paul reminds us that our societal system is broken and should not be used to determine our value,
“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.” Philippians 4:12 (NIV)
What Is The Secret?
The secret is that Paul was in tune with the system of the “Haves and Have-Nots”. There is no need to condemn the “Haves” for having or bring to light those of us who are lacking. The point is to share Paul’s secret.
In Christ, we all “HAVE”.
- An opportunity: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Phil 1:21; “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead” Phil 3:13.
- God within us: “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Phil 2:13.
- Value: “so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.” Phil 2:15
- A home: “But our citizenship is in heaven.” Phil 3:20
- Peace. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:6-7
- Strength: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Phil 4:13
What we HAVE cannot be taken away.