Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (NKJV)
We’ve all heard countless messages on this verse. They usually relate to themes of overcoming great odds, or facing uncertainty or fear which of course is a correct and relevant application.
However, I think even more, given modern lifestyles and attitudes, this verse needs to be retaught, re-examined and re-applied concerngin the simple day to day course of living. Consider the following verses, then my facetious, but sadly accurate, “re-write” of them. I don’t do this to get a chuckle, or have people nod their heads in agreement. We have a serious epidemic of personal weakness today that is being remedied by everything BUT faith, Scripture and Christianity. Here is what the Apostle Paul said about his “tough life”:
“…in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?” (2 Cor 11:22-29)
Here is what millions of Americans and Westerners might say about their “tough life”:
“…in depressions more frequent, in anxiety oft. Of my co-workers, I went unrecognized and praised often. Several times, people at church did not treat me well, one time my feelings were hurt; day and night my self esteem has been effected; taking anti-depressants often, stimulants constantly, in need of sleeping pills to go to bed at night. I constantly have to seek therapy and pyschiatric help because I just can’t learn to love myself as much as I should, and I have trouble making sure that I don’t feel shameful or guilty about my sin, weakness and failures. I’ve often changed churches looking for the best support groups and mental/emotional health programs, especially when a church refuses to use anything but the Bible to counsel people. Many churches have no self-help or mental health programs at all. I have low self esteem constantly; almost never have victory over sin, flesh or weakness; and even though I spend little time studying my Bible or praying, I’m confused about why I have little spirtual maturity. Yea, though I walk through the shadow of low self esteem, Biblical illiteracy and narcissicism, my pills, therapy and my support groups comfort me.
It is just a sad reality that entire generations today have not only lost the tough grit and independence that forged great nations, but have also lost the faith and dependence of the Apostle Paul that allowed him to endure REAL trouble, and say “I can do all things through Christ who strengthen me.”
I can do all things through pills, supports groups
and therapy (man, not God) which strengthen me.
Now, I don’t want to leave anyone downtrodden by this message. You can’t change the past. But you can change today, which will change the future. We all have to start somewhere. So if you can more relate to the second version of the verses above, rather than the first, then here is some encouragement to keep handy:
- My self esteem and self love are human ideas, not God’s. I will deny myself and turn my heart and thoughts to serving and loving others, especially God. I can do this because Christ gives me the strength to do all things.
- If I feel overlooked and unrecognized by others, I will remember that God never overlooks or fails to see anything. I can do this because Christ gives me the strength to do all things.
- If I am depressed, having a pity party, got the blues or feel down simply because I don’t think life it treating me as well as I deserve… I will quit feeling sorry for myself, and thank God for all the many blessings I am overlooking. I can do this because Christ gives me the strength to do all things.
- If I am using pills, humanist therapy and other non-Biblical resources to cover up my lack of dependence on God, my lack of Biblical understanding, my lack of faith and my lack of discipline, I will cease to look to “man” for answers, and will turn to God who will give me all things that pertain to life and Godliness (2Pet 1:3). I can do this because Christ gives me the strength to do all things.
- If I am anxious, nervous, worried and constantly fretting over things today, I will compare them to what Paul endured in 2Cor 11:22-2 and I will thank God that my trials are light and insignificant compared to his. I can do this because Christ gives me the strength to do all things.
- If I am facing truly significant trials today that are genuinely severe and life changing, then I will lean in faith even more on this universal truth: Christ gives me the strength to do all things.
Again, I don’t want this message to simply be critical of the emotional weakness and lack of character that is so prominent today, even in Christianity. I want it to be a stepping stone, a wake up call, a starting point for those who want to grow and mature spiritually, to get past being emotional weaklings, to turn away from “human answers” including drugs and unGodly ideas about human behavior, and begin to head back to God who promises us everything we need to be healthy, happy, strong and victorious in this life:
- Philippians 4:11-13 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. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (NKJV)
- Philippians 4:19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (NKJV)
- 2 Peter 1:2-4 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (NKJV)
- 2 Timothy 3:15-17 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (NKJV)
- 1 Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (NKJV)
Lord God, help us to find our strength in You. Help us to be like Paul, enduring all things in faith, spiritually mature, emotionally tough, and relying on You instead of “man” for the answers and help. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?