Verse of the Day: Philippians 4:13
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13
Of all people here on earth, we Christians have the most excellent reason to rejoice. Paul, in this letter to the Philippians lays out what that reason is. “But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked an opportunity to act.” Philippians 4:10. Paul understood that all good comes from God. This could either be immediately from God’s providence or from his grace and therefore, the apostle gives thanks to God for the kindness directed to him, for it was God that gave them the power and desire that directed their hearts to him. There is nothing quite so cheerful and optimistic to the weary soul as an unexpected visit from an old friend. No wonder as Paul turns to express gratitude for their gift, he starts by telling them that he did then what he has been urging them to do throughout: “I rejoiced” greatly in the Lord. The reason for his great joy is expressed with a botanical metaphor, meaning to “blossom again”, like perennials or the spring shoots of deciduous trees and bushes. After a period of dormancy in the matter of giving and receiving, the Philippians were able to renew this part of their friendship with Paul.
Now in verse 11 we see that Paul, who was very well educated, had learned something very important to help him in the life he was currently living. He was very content. “Not that I speak from need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” Philippians 4:11. This was probably something that took time for him to grasp. If he was ever in the Mamertine, that being a Roman prison for those condemned to die, he would confess that it would take a deal of grace to make us content to be there. And if he was shut up in the prison of the Palatine hill, in the barracks near the morass, it was, to say the least, that it was not a desirable place to be in. A soldier chained to your hand day and night, however good a fellow he may be, does not always make the most delightful company for you, nor you for him, and it takes some time to learn to be content with such a companion. But, says Paul, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” Philippians 4:10b.
Contentment in all states is not natural to us. As weeds grow in soil; covetousness, discontentment, and murmuring are things that can grow in us. And as there is no need to sow thistles and weeds because they come up naturally, we have no need to teach others to complain or be discontent for these also come up naturally. But the precious things of the earth must be cultivated. If we want wheat, we must plough the ground and sow the wheat seeds. if we want flowers, there must be the garden, and all the gardener’s care. Contentment is one of the flowers of heaven, and if we would have it, it must be cultivated. It will not grow in us naturally; it is the new nature alone that can produce it, and even then we must be especially careful and watchful that we maintain and cultivate the grace that God has sown in it. Paul says, “I have learned to be content,” which says he was not content before he learned to be.
Now Paul adds to this thought. “I know how to get along with little, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.” Philippians 4:12. Paul here says he has learned how to live with very little, as he does now, and to live with an abundance of things, as he did prior to his conversion. A Christian, who had been rich, when he was asked how he could bear his reduced state so happily, put his answer to this question so beautifully, and it has been called the ‘secret to contentment.’ “When I was rich, I had God in everything, and now I am poor I have everything in God.” We must always remember that no matter our situation, God is always with us. He will bring us through any difficulty. We must honor Him in every situation. Here is an interesting quote from Charles Spurgeon regarding this issue. “How many Christians have I seen grandly glorifying God in sickness and poverty when they have come down in the world, and how often have I seen other Christians dishonoring God when they have grown rich, or when they have risen to a position of influence among their fellow men! These two lessons grace alone can fully teach us.”
Now we come to our focus verse. “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13. There is no boasting in this statement. Paul only spoke truth here. The former part of the sentence would be a piece of impudent daring without the latter part to interpret it. This passage is not about having financial abundance. Some teach a prosperity gospel that says God will bless us financially if we are faithful. In contrast, Paul taught that the believer would endure suffering but can be content in any circumstance, given Christ’s strength. Just as He faithfully endured the suffering forced upon Him on the cross, His followers can faithfully endure the problems they face. Christ can give contentment during times of plenty and of poverty. He can help us do all things through His strength. In Paul’s case, it was the strength to spread the gospel even though he was experiencing intense suffering. In our lives, this same strength is available during our times of trials. Whether we serve in another country or help someone in our own community, Christ’s power can enable us to stand firm on His promises and endure the most difficult of life’s challenges.
I want to encourage us all to stand firm in the Lord no matter our situation. Note the wording in our focus verse. “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.“ Philippians 4:13. Not just some things, but all things. If God calls us to do a work, He will not leave us alone, but will work through us to make it happen. We must trust Him completely in all we do. He will never let us down. This pertains to all who love and follow Him. So, do all you can and let the Lord help you through the rest.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.