Links Daily Devotional

The Secret

I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. (Philippians 4:12, NASB)

Whether it is because God created us to be curious or by training from childhood (“Can you keep a …?”), the idea of a secret fascinates us. Colonel Sanders guarded his secret recipe for fried chicken, Coca-Cola maintains a secret formula, and Ben Hogan found the secret to golf. Or did he?

Perhaps the media goaded Mr. Hogan into saying he had a secret or perhaps he implied it, but he eventually accepted a large payment from Life Magazine to reveal “the secret” to the golf swing. Later he said he had only revealed part of the secret. Still later a fellow who had shagged balls for Mr. Hogan wrote a non-fiction book with the claim that it contained the full secret, and another fellow wrote a fictionalized biography of Mr. Hogan speculating that “the secret” was actually passed along to Hogan by the one and only Bobby Jones.

All of this grabs my attention as fast as an invitation to play Pebble Beach. Not that I would understand Hogan’s secret or be able to incorporate it into my game, but I’d still like to know what it was—if it was.

Paul, who was a terrific letter writer, failed at the marketing opportunity inherent in his pronouncement of having learned a very valuable secret. Had he left it there I’m sure some magazine publisher would have offered him thousands of shekels for exclusive rights to “the secret” of living in prosperity or poverty, of being full or hungry, of having much or having nothing.

Most people seem to think the secret to living with less is to strive for more. Conversely, many wealthy people think they would be happier if they had less. So is the secret to simply change where you are, from either more to less or less to more? Not even close—or, as we might say, not even more or less.

Paul went on to reveal the secret in the very next line: “I can do all things through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). Paul was implying that there are challenges in being prosperous just as there are in having humble means—that it is difficult to have too much, just as it is difficult to have too little. He’s right, of course, although I confess I have not experienced either side of that to any great degree. But I do know and have known people well who are on both sides of the ledger, and I know their struggles.

Where do you fit? Are you facing the challenges before you with the strength of Christ? Paul’s term for “gives me strength” in verse 13 incorporates the same Greek that later formed the English word dynamite. It is significant power that Paul gets, and he gets it from Jesus. Are you getting your power from him, or are you getting it from some less reliable, more limited source?

This is a secret I can understand and one I can incorporate into my life. I can now face every challenge, whether it is losing to my rival on the course or winning the PGA Championship, whether it is living with little or living with much, whether it is being hungry or being filled. I can’t do that because of my strength, but because of the strength I get from Jesus.

We may never really know Hogan’s secret but we know Paul’s, and this is one secret we must not keep.

Lewis Greer

August 12, 2013

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