I Can Do All Things Through Christ…
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
What an encouraging statement this verse is! Oh how we have heard it quoted in sermons, songs, personal testimonies, and now (so it seems) even in blogs. It is one of those verses that we use in the same way we use most modern day conveniences; when the need for it arises, we whip it out and quote it. But, in the absence of a seemingly insurmountable challenge, we just forget about this “secret weapon” of a verse.
But have you ever stopped long enough to consider the context and intended meaning of the verse? It seems to me that if the verse really means that I can do anything simply because Christ is dwelling in me, then the verse has been proven wrong many times. There are many things that we simply cannot do. We are simply incapable (as human beings) of doing some things. So then what is this verse really saying?
At the church where I pastor I am known for making much of the context of the scriptures. I believe that until you understand the Who, What, Where, and When, of the passage you are studying, you cannot understand God’s intended meaning for the scripture. The context of this verse is not found in and of itself; for the context we must back up to verses 11&12:
Philippians 4:11-12 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
The Apostle Paul is talking about the many conditions and circumstances that he has found himself in. He points out that there have been times that he has been in want, and there have been times that he has had abundance. He has been in seasons of life that have placed him in the high esteem of others, and there have been seasons of scorn and rejection. He knew what it was like to have his message of the gospel received and he knew what it was like to be hated and persecuted for the gospel’s sake. He was saying that through all of those different times he had learned to be content. And that is where verse 13 comes into play.
For most people, the greatest challenge they will face in this life will not be some physical feat like building a huge ministry or achieving some position of honor or authority. Those are great achievements and they are, no doubt, tremendous feats that are only achieved by a few. That’s not what “I can do all things…” is talking about; if it were, wouldn’t all Christians be achieving those things?
The greatest challenges faced by every Christian is the challenge of being content with whatever season of life we are in. Whether it be poverty or wealth, joy or sadness, health or illness, fame or obscurity, acceptance or rejection; Paul was saying that none of those things could affect the contentment that he had found in Christ. He had discovered that through Christ he could be satisfied with the path of his life, regardless of how pleasant or unpleasant the outward circumstances were.
So the next time you find yourself depressed by how unfairly you have been treated, that’s when you should quote Philippians 4:13. The next time you are going through a stretch in the path of life that is disagreeable to you, that’s when you should proclaim “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”. This verse was not meant for times when we need super human strength or ability to accomplish some outward achievement, but rather, for those times when we must find the spiritual strength to remain content with what the Lord has seen fit to send into our lives. I really CAN be content. I really CAN remain satisfied. I really CAN continue to minister to others. But only through Christ which strengthens me. And you can too!