Explanation: Today we will start a new Sunday Series on different Bible verses that are often quoted and could have potential of becoming cliché. I need to clarify what I mean by this before someone gets confused about what I am talking about. What I mean is not that the Bible is cliché, as in having lost real meaning. What I mean is that sometimes verses are used in situations but without really understanding what that verse actually means. I firmly believe the Bible is the most relevant book anyone will ever read. In it are the very words of God!
** If you have a verse that fits, please suggest it for another week. I will do this for as many Sundays as I have verses for.
Society is guilty of feeding the narcissistic appetites of young people. If you don’t believe me, go to the mall and check out what they are selling. No, I am not talking about the kiosk displays, but all the stores that appeal to teenagers. Sure, it looks a lot like clothes, but it is a far more insidious message. The message is: You can do whatever you want, or be whatever you want, if you put your mind to it. On the surface it seems like a nice message to tell our kids. I know I want my children to work hard at their school work and apply themselves to the things they commit to. I don’t want them, however, to put too much faith in themselves over God. If I can do whatever I want by thinking about it and working hard, then why do I need anyone else?
The verse for today is this:
“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:13
Well intentioned Christian people have used this verse for all sorts of scenarios without placing it in context. Just to be clear, I don’t necessarily fault anyone for doing that. It can be an encouraging verse when you feel like you have been backed into a corner. There are real tangible things we can apply here, but we do need to understand the context. In order to do that, we need to back up and take a look at what is actually being talked about in Philippians 4.
In the two verses prior, Paul is writing about contentment in all circumstances. He said that he has learned the secret of contentment, whether he has all that he needs or he is missing some necessity in life. In other words, he has realized that his contentment in life is not tied to material things. The big reveal, or secret he is referring to comes in verse 13. Paul is really saying that he has found that his source for strength and contentment in every circumstance does not come from him, it comes from Jesus Christ. It is in Christ that He finds all that He needs; That is the message here.
When taken out of context people apply this to all sorts of scenarios. “I want to get a job.” “I want to play catcher for the Red Sox.” “I want to get over my addictions.” “I want to make a million dollars selling my product that no one can use.” “I want to save my marriage.”
While it is true that Jesus Christ is the answer to all we need in life, it cannot be said that just because I can do all things through Christ that I will actually do all things. If the goal of your life is to find contentment in Christ, then it really will not matter what you do. You will be content in everything because you know Christ, like Paul is saying. But, if your joy and purpose is tied to a job or relationships, then you will struggle with contentment every day because those things can be volatile.
It is absolutely true that God can take what seems to be impossible and make it possible. Look at any follower of Jesus Christ and you will find stories of God doing the impossible in their lives.
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26
The Bottom Line: This verse is not about getting whatever you want. it is not about “just putting your mind to it and making it happen.” This verse is about finding the strength to be content in the middle of whatever circumstance you find yourself in. It is about God giving to you just what you need in every circumstance in the person of His Son Jesus Christ.
Have a blessed Sunday– Drop me a line, let me know if there are verses you would like to see in the coming weeks, or if you have anything to add to this discussion for today.