“ I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13 (Emphasis mine)
This passage is used for all sorts of ‘personal empowerment’, from the mundane and ordinary to the spectacular and life impacting, and just about every stop in between, where personal accomplishment of something is in view. But is that what it really means? Let’s look at it again
The Passage in Context
In a letter to the church at Philippi, the Apostle writes:
“I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity.
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.
I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” – Phillippians 4:10-13
In context, the passage follows Paul’s thanksgiving for the gift of the Philippians to the ministry, and at the same time Paul speaks of being content regardless of the physical circumstances, whether they are tough or filled with plenty.
In fact, contentment in every circumstance was a common theme of Paul’s in his letters to the churches in Asia Minor. Earlier in the same letter Paul exhorted:
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” – v. 4
Our popular use of “I can do all things…” is more like one of those slogans at the bottom of a beautiful landscape often see scattered around the workplace designed to motivate the worker bees, than the author’s intended meaning.
And since it is not a Biblical promise for success here and now, there is an almost guaranteed ‘downer’, if not spiritual ‘bruising’ when the inevitable happens – one of the ‘things’ doesn’t work out as intended.
The Real Promise
“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. – v. 19
Whatever our need, whatever our circumstance, we can take them to the Lord in prayer, and He will meet every single one! It might not be according to our plan, but it will always be better than we could imagine and in accordance with His perfect will.