You know this verse, right?
You’ve used it, no doubt, many, many times.
It’s your go-to verse when you need a boost, your default scripture when life has gone all screwy balooey.
May I share a thought?
We misquote the hound out of this passage something fierce. We tend to use it to give us that extra oomph and inner and mental toughness to overcome a circumstance when it’s really about something else entirely.
It’s true context is
Let’s look at it again and I’ll add the verses that come just before it and right after. It’s a lengthy section so I’ll put it in a reliable and readable version – and even highlight/underline the verse so you can see how it fits in the thought-flow:
Philippians 4:10-20 (JB Phillips)
It has been a great joy to me that after all this time you have shown such interest in my welfare. I don’t mean that you had forgotten me, but up till now you had no opportunity of expressing your concern. Nor do I mean that I have been in actual need, for I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances may be. I know now how to live when things are difficult and I know how to live when things are prosperous. In general and in particular I have learned the secret of facing either poverty or plenty. I am ready for anything through the strength of the one who lives within me. Nevertheless I am not disparaging the way in which you were willing to share my troubles. You Philippians will remember that in the early days of the Gospel when I left Macedonia, you were the only church who shared with me the fellowship of giving and receiving. Even in Thessalonica you twice sent me help when I was in need. It isn’t the value of the gift that I am keen on, it is the reward that will come to you because of these gifts that you have made. Now I have everything I want – in fact I am rich. Yes, I am quite content, thanks to your gifts received through Epaphroditus. Your generosity is like a lovely fragrance, a sacrifice that pleases the very heart of God. My God will supply all that you need from his glorious resources in Christ Jesus. And may glory be to our God and our Father for ever and ever, amen!
Pretty enlightening, huh?
Paul’s talking about provision – or lack thereof. He’s saying, in essence, it’s cool, whatever, amen, moving on. This is my story, this is my song.
Fannie Crosby was blind since her birth, but never lost her song. In fact, she wrote over 8,000 of them in her lifetime and 100 million copies of them have been distributed since.
Only 8, she already learned the secret of living well:
Oh, what a happy soul am I!
Although I cannot see,
I am resolved that in this world, CONTENTED I will be.
How many blessings I enjoy,
that other people don’t.
To weep and sigh because I’m blind,
I cannot and I won’t!
Now I’m not saying you are forbidden to use Philippians 4:13 before a test, a football game, a speech, or in just facing another day.
But only in proper context.
What you’re saying is: I’ve done my part and I leave all the rest to God. You’re declaring that you will praise and thank Him, whatever the outcome. The rendering of “through Christ who strengthens me” in the original is:
Christ who fuses His strength to my own
If I flub the speech or we lose the game, amen. If I’m tested, tempted, tried and trounced today, so be it. I’m prepared, I’m ready, but nevertheless…
Ah, there’s the word!
Jeremiah Burroughs said,
Though I have not outward comforts and worldly conveniences to supply my necessities, yet I have a sufficient portion between Christ and my soul abundantly to satisfy me in every condition.”
Likewise, Thomas à Kempis:
They who love Jesus for the sake of Jesus, and not for some special comfort of their own, bless him in all tribulation and anguish of heart, as well as in the state of highest comfort.
If this is your story, if this is your song, if you can say AMEN to anything…congratulations, you’ve learned the secret to a very blessed and prosperous life.