How to Have a Good Work Life Balance by Meditating on Others
Paul’s spirit of rejoicing continues in the midst of imprisonment as he considers in verses twelve through eighteen how unique it is that the gospel is being spread even quicker as a result of his abuse and imprisonment. Through it all, Paul rejoiced that Christ was being preached. I can’t even rejoice when I hit a red light!
He may be in prison but he is meditating on two thoughts—Christianity is spreading, and my students are developing their inner spirit. WOW! Nothing wavers this man. How is he able to write such poetic words of love to his people in the midst of such great adversity? Proper meditations—he thinks about his students.
He goes on to say, “For I know that this (his rejoicing in the midst of difficult circumstances) shall turn to my salvation (not his salvation from hell, but his salvation from prison) through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,” (verse 19). Here’s what Paul is saying: This is such an unbelievable way of thinking! Paul has confidence that he is going to get out of prison because of three positive meditations:
#1 The prayers of the church members,
#2 God will reward him with freedom because he was willing to spread the gospel, and
#3 Because he was willing to respond properly in the spirit. He concluded point three by saying he was going to get out of there “through the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” I’m going to let the Spirit work through me to wiggle me out of this place.
Paul’s Solid Meditations
What a solid meditator Paul had! How does one get an attitude like this? How do you get a meditator that thinks, “It’s not about me; it’s about these people.” The answer is found in verse 7—“Even as it is meet (or, necessary) for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart.” Paul thought good thoughts because he “had them in his heart!” He writes good thoughts “about them” because he is thinking good thoughts “about them.” In the midst of the difficult circumstances of life he is thinking about his students.
If I were in prison, I would write you a letter telling you everything that was happening to me. Why? It is because I would be thinking about me! I would most probably be thinking “woe is me.” You see, I think about my students—but just not enough! Most people think positive thoughts about themselves, negative thoughts about themselves, or negative thoughts about others; but few people think positive thoughts about others. Paul had it right. He thought about those God had sent him to develop.
Are You Thinking of Others or Yourself?
“I have you in my heart.” Our heart is our meditator. Our heart is different than our mind. Our mind is where we store data. Our heart is where we think about things. We pull thoughts down from the stored data into our mind and think about it in our meditator—the heart. Paul’s heart was absolutely filled with his students, even while he was in prison (see paragraphs first sentence in 7b).
I don’t know about you, but I’m getting tired of meditating on me and my circumstances. I’m tired of meditating on things other than those whom God has given me to oversee—my students and my family. I say to you what Paul’s book said to me as I studied this one morning in February, “What is on your heart today? Is it your students? Or, is it your situations?”
I challenge each of us like God challenges me almost weekly: who is this really about? Christian, whatever is on your meditator is what this is really about. If your meditator is on you—it’s all about you! If it’s on your students, it’ll all be about your students. I know that we can all change our meditator (our hearts) and express great joy in the midst of adversity.