PHILIPPIANS 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
OBSERVATION: Can I really do “all things”? In this day of “promise verse” Christianity, we have lost the needed discipline of critical thinking. This is one of the most well know promises in the Bible. It is also one of the most misunderstood promises too! What does it really mean?
First, let’s state the obvious. I really cannot to “all things”. Let me give you a very practical example. I am 5′ 9″ tall. When I was a boy I loved to play basketball. It was one of my favorites sports. I could really hustle on the court, played great defense, and was good at stealing the ball. I had only one problem – I could not shoot! And then I encountered another problem. Everyone I played with grew between 3 – 6 inches taller than me. My basketball career days were numbered. So clearly, this promise does not mean that I can simply choose whatever I want to do, claim the promise, and then do it.
So what does it mean? I have heard it used wrongly so many times I have lost count. The answer is found in one word – “context”. To understand what a verse in the Bible means, we must read it in the context of what the original author (and the Holy Spirit) was intending to say. Here is the context of this verse:
- “But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” Philippians 4:10-12 NKJV
Paul was talking about his personal sustenance in his ministry. He was thanking the Philippians for their generous support, but made it clear that he had learned how to depend on the Lord for everything. He discovered the power of contentment by resting in the Lord as His source of supply. He could rejoice whether he found himself in a position of abundance or lack, being well fed or hungry, walking in victory or enduring suffering. How could he do this?
- “I (Paul) can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 NKJV
Paul knew that Jesus Christ would both be with him and sustain him in every situation and challenge he might face. He had just exhorted the Philippians not to worry, but always to pray. He had reminded them to think on the wonderful blessings the Lord had given them, and to walk in the revelation and understanding they had received. And he assured them of the Peace of God that passes all human understanding, that it would keep their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This is what it means to be able to do “all things” through Christ who strengthens us.
It is important in life to be realistic with both our provisions and our limitations. God’s grace is promised to each one of us to fulfill all that He has called us to do. It is not a “pocket promise” to do all that we want to do. Our Christian life should never be about getting the Lord to rubber stamp our plans. Our Christian life should be about discovering His plan for our life, walking in the power of His Grace to fulfill it, and trusting that what He has called us to do, He will also accomplish – through Christ in us! And here is the wonderful promise to us as we do:
- “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Philippians 4:19-20 NKJV)
Lord, thank you for your promise to lead, guide, and provide! Help me to discover Your pathway for my life today, and walk in the confidence of Your provision and your peace!
In Jesus Name!