|Photo courtesy of: anankkml, Free Digital Photos|
I keep seeing posters that say, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” They feature the verse with a picture. It might be a person in determined step, a lion, tiger, or another strong looking image. Sometimes, you see this verse in a list of encouragements for women.
Philippians 4:13 is inspiring, but it’s one of those many verses that's richer when viewed in its context. Why did the Apostle Paul write it? What’s the context? Why is this verse especially encouraging to missionary women?
First, Philippians 4:13 doesn’t say:
- I am powerful.
- I can do everything.
- I have a lot of strength.
It isn’t about me.
It isn’t about the Apostle Paul, either.
Let’s read the context for added meaning. We’re starting in verse 10 and reading through verse 20: But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
A small interruption, here. What's Paul talking about? He had just received a care package—I mean, a gift—and was thankful for both his suffering and the believers’ generous response. (He’s writing from prison, by the way.) He is content. He's been both full and hungry, and this is clearly a time of need, quite possibly hunger.
Now comes our verse: I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. I looked up the word do, and it is joined to I can. It means “I can be strong” or “I can prevail.” Through Christ, Who strengthens us!
Do you see the context? In the midst of trial and depravation God gives strength! We can go through any trial because He is with us, strengthening us. In the middle of it! Doesn’t that bless your heart?
Let’s read on: Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction. Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.
Thank God for churches that meet missionary’s needs! Thank God for monthly support! Thank God for prayer support! Thank God for the rare church—like the church at Philippi—that sends a gift or meets a special need.
So Paul goes back to praising God for His blessings, given through His people, sent snail mail through the foot postman Epaphroditus. But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, (Chocolate maybe? I’m kidding!) a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God.
You can feel his contentment. You can sense his joy in the Lord. Paul was thrilled that the Philippians served God, and he was happy that God would reward them.
Then, Paul shares another encouraging missionary verse: But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
He closes the chapter with praise: Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
What are the practical lessons from Philippians 4:13?
- God will help us through any and all trials we might face on the mission field. He’ll provide the strength we need in order to prevail. It’s all about God. We can’t do anything, but God can.
- Every servant of God has lean times and full times. We are to trust God fully and rejoice in Him, no matter what our circumstances might be at the time.
- When a church blesses us, we’re to be thankful and joyful, remembering that God will reward those believers.
- God promises to meet our needs. Yes, there will be tough times and more abundant times, but our sovereign God knows exactly what we need and when. We can fully trust Him.
- Give God the glory. Amen.
God bless you, dear Sister, as you labor for Him in your mission field. To God be the glory.