Long before Oliver Twist uttered what for him was that life-altering word, it was uttered by another man. It was not a poor orphan asking for more porridge; it was a wealthy king, Solomon, who wanted more of whatever would indulge his desires. Yet each arrival at the destination known as “more,” only left him unsatisfied. He left us the writing of Ecclesiastes as a testimony to the vanity of the material. C. S. Lewis wrote, “What does not satisfy when we find it, must not be the thing we were desiring.”
The materialism of our day has its pernicious influence on each of us. We are all caught up in the “cult of the next new thing.” We have tried to find both our significance and security in the material. Each of us would have to confess how hollow and unsatisfying the result is. The very dissatisfaction we feel upon “arriving” should remind us that this is not what we really desire. We were not made to find security or significance in “things” but in a Person. We were not meant to find satisfaction in who we are and what we have but in Whose we are and Whom we have.
Paul had learned the secret of living above circumstances (Phil 4:11-13), marked by a holy contentment with whatever state God allowed. At the same time, a holy discontentment filled his heart as he longed to know more and more of Christ (Phil 3:10-14). Here is the only thing which can really satisfy our souls and lives. The reason is very simple: we were made for this purpose. We are hardwired to thrive on this. Paul pressed onward and upward for the “prize of the high calling of God” (v14). Like the athlete pressing toward the finish line, he had only one goal before his eyes. Nothing was allowed to distract. Even his service took a secondary place to the wonder of the prospect of knowing Christ better.
We often sing the words of Eliza Hewitt’s hymn, “More about Jesus would I know,” yet few of us are willing to pay the price to know Him better. On the Damascus road at his conversion and then again 30 years later, Paul’s choice was unaltered: “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord … do count them but dung (Phil 3:7,8). Time had not dimmed the vision of the glory which blinded his eyes forever to all that earth could offer. Stephen, at whose stoning Paul “consented,” ended his pilgrimage for God with a sight of the Lord Jesus in glory; Paul began his with a similar sight of glory. Our Christianity and devotion have tragically become very lukewarm. Our separation from a secular, God-disowning society is not based on rules and regulations of what we are not “allowed” to do. It is the result of vision which has been filled with the matchless worth of the One Whom the world cast out and still rejects today.