Text: Philippians 4:13 | Listen to Message
Just in the past week or two I’ve seen a couple memes on social media poking fun at those who misuse Philippians 4:13.
One said, “I can do all things through a verse taken out of context.”
The other: “I can win all sports games through Christ who strengthens me.”
Unfortunately, this is exactly how many contemporary Christians (and even our nonbelieving peers) use this verse. It’s a rabbit’s food, a good luck charm, a boost of positivity. It’s the ultimate hype verse for anything and everything we’ve put our minds to – and especially for sports competitions.
But even a cursory glance at the context shows that this verse isn’t about winning, it’s about enduring loss. The Apostle Paul isn’t writing about a mountaintop experience; he’s writing from prison about learning to live in the valleys. Philippians 4:13 isn’t about God being a Cosmic Genie who fulfills your dreams; it’s about how to endure with joy even when those dreams have been shattered in a million pieces.
Paul himself introduces verse 13 as “the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” In other words, he’s not sharing the secret of success, but the secret of being satisfied even when you’re not successful.
Ironically, we spend all kinds of time, money, energy, and emotional capital on avoiding (and extricating ourselves from) the very kinds of difficult circumstances that would teach us contentment in the first place. There’s a better way.
Recognize that the strength God is offering you in Philippians 4:13 is the strength to endure any circumstance with joy. In Christ, and through the exercise of his power, you can face every high and every low with everything you need to be completely satisfied.
So put on his strength! How?
First, ask for it. Call on it. Acknowledge your weakness, admit that your resources are insufficient, confess your poverty of spirit, and ask God to supply his strength in order for you to be content and joyful, regardless of your circumstances.
Second, appropriate his power. Own it. Make it yours. Put it on, as Ephesians 6:10ff suggests you can. Meditate on his power and glory. Focus on the strength and sufficiency that comes to you through the Gospel. Wrestle with how that power would change your perspective, if you really believed it. Surrender to Christ over and over again, and praise him for how he gives you strength in your inner person. Finally, go walk in step with the Good News you’re finding in Jesus. Go demonstrate in your actions and your words, “I have everything I need in Christ.”