From Our Team

Bray Park Community Church

Words of thought from our Church Team

Twisted: ‘I can do all things’

‘I can do all things through him who strengthens me.’ (Philippians 4:13)
Philippians 4:13 is a beautiful and a famous verse. I actually think it was one of the very first verses I could recall from memory. I think the reason it is so popular is because it just seems so empowering: ‘I can do ALL things.’ 
Now, I don’t doubt that Paul meant for it be an encouragement, but to what end is he encouraging the Philippian church? What are the ‘all things’ Paul is referring to? Should I use this verse to encourage myself when trying to lift a heavy weight at the gym? Is it right for someone to recite this verse before they make a bet at the horse races? What exactly are the ‘all things’, and how can we apply this wonderful verse to our lives?
It gives me such joy when I hear of believers spending time reading the Bible. In fact, it still astounds me that God would reveal himself to us in this concrete way. He could have left us to our own devices, but he didn’t. He revealed himself to us through his Word — the Scriptures. 
So, how can we honour God in the way that we handle this gift? 
Last Sunday, in our Twisted sermon series, John and Adam mentioned some of the strategies we can apply in order to correctly interpret Scripture. I’d like to remind us of the first and most important step to take when interpreting the Bible — understand the context. In fact, a look at the immediate context of Philippians 4:13 quickly helps us to figure out what Paul means in his mind-boggling statement. Let’s look at the two verses that precede Philippians 4:13:
11Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12I 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. (Philippians 4:12-12)
In these verses, Paul is talking about the ‘secret’ of contentment in ‘any and every circumstance’. He could face both poverty and riches because he faced these things ‘through’ the one who gave him strength — Jesus Christ. In fact, at the time of writing this letter, Paul was actually in prison (Philippians 1:12-14). So, he wasn’t writing this verse while working out at the gym, he was under arrest in jail! Yet, he could still say that he was content. He did all of life through Christ. What an empowering truth. No circumstance needs to get the better of us, we ‘can do all things through him who strengthens’ us (Philippians 4:13)! The person who abides in Jesus and places their faith and trust in him can face any and every situation in life. 
Thus, by some very simple and quick investigation into the context, we have answered our initial question. The ‘all things’ Paul is referring to are ‘any and every circumstance’ in which we find ourselves in life. In poverty and in hardship we can find contentment in Jesus. In wealth and in success we can keep our eyes focused on what is truly important. Paul doesn’t say that he could simply tolerate life, but rather that he learned how to find real contentment. A full-bodied and wholesome word.
God’s Word is so rich! Let me encourage you to read it. But on top of that, let me encourage you to take the time to discover it’s true meaning. Context is always a good first step.
In grace,
Embracing Community
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