Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Philippians 4:13

A good reminder of the importance of context:
.... If we read Philippians 4:13 in isolation, apart from its context, it’s possible to see why so many take it as a declaration of personal empowerment.

Out of context, the “all things” seems like it could refer to whatever someone might want to accomplish—from winning a football game to losing weight to getting a new job to gaining material wealth. Out of context, it is often treated like a spiritual boost of self-confidence that can be applied to any ambition or aspiration in life.

But in context this verse has a very specific, defined meaning—one that most Americans don’t want to hear about, but one that is very important for us to remember as believers. ....

...[I]n context, it is a verse about contentment. It’s not about your dreams coming true or your goals being met. Rather it’s about being joyful, satisfied, and steadfast even when life is hard and your circumstances seem impossible. ....

This is not a verse about being empowered to change your circumstances; rather, it is a verse about relying on God’s power in order to be content in the midst of circumstances you can’t change.

Consider, for just a moment, the context of Philippians 4:13. Writing to the believers in Philippi, Paul says:
(10) 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 opportunity.
(11) Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
(12) I know how to get along with humble means, 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.
(13) I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
You can see there, that when the apostle says, I can do all things through Him who strengthens me, he is speaking about contentment. In any circumstance, he had learned to be content by depending on Christ who gave him the strength to persevere in any situation. .... [more]