Summary: Paul says he can do everything through Christ who gives him strength. He understands the sufficiency, sphere and the source of God's strength.
“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Phil 4:13)
• This is a verse we all love. We’ve seen it on bookmarks, cups, t-shirts, bumper stickers… It is a line we all like because it is very positive.
• In fact, some people take this verse out of its context and apply it simply – that they can surely achieve their goal because God will give them to strength to reach it.
Is this what Paul meant? Let’s take a look at the context and appreciate why Paul made such a remark.
[Read Phil 4:10-20]
Paul was thanking the church for their financial support. He has been serving the Lord by faith, without drawing any salary from the churches.
• He was dependent upon these freewill offerings. In fact, Acts 18 tells us at one time, he has to work as a tentmaker for period of time, until support came and he devoted himself exclusively to the preaching of the Gospel.
• There were times he has plenty and times when he was in greater need.
But whatever the situation, the Lord has given him the strength to go through.
• When in plenty or in want, well fed or hungry, God led me through.
• And he made this classic statement – “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” He is not saying he can do just anything and everything.
• The context here has to do primarily with his financial or economic status. Paul wrote this from the prison.
• In a sense he has nothing but God, but God is all he needs.
“I CAN do everything…” refers to his ability to deal with every circumstance, including adverse ones, by the strength of God.
• The first words I CAN tells us of his faith in …
(1) The SUFFICIENCY of God’s Strength
Paul did not see himself as a victim of his circumstances. He did not pity himself for the times when he was experiencing lack.
• He sees himself as an overcomer, because of the strength that God gives.
• He has learnt to trust God is EVERY circumstances. He says he has learnt to be content. Happy with the lot he is in.
• This is a good lesson for us. Trust Him in EVERY circumstances, not just for the good times.
Learn from Paul. A casual look at his life shows us just what he had to endure.
• In 2 Cor 11:22-33 he tells us that he was in prison (23), flogged (23), repeatedly exposed to death (23), whipped five times (24), beaten with rods three times (25), constantly on the move (26), in constant danger (26), he went prolonged periods without sleep, food, or a place to stay (27), he carried the burden of the churches (28), and he struggled with internal battles of the soul (29).
• If that’s not all enough, Paul experienced what he called “a thorn in my flesh” (12:7), and this he called “a messenger of Satan to torment me.”
• This was probably some type of physical problem that Paul experienced. Three times he “pleaded with the Lord to take it away,” but God did not.
• Instead though, God did say “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power [strength] is made perfect in weakness” (12:9).
Paul has come to learn of the SUFFICIENCY of God’s strength, that when he was weak, he was strong in the strength of God.
• Paul knew the truth that whatever God led him to, God would lead him through.
• People usually see themselves as powerless victims of the situation. Our attitude is I CAN’T. “I cannot take it” or “I cannot make it”.
• Paul reminds us that in Christ our “I can’t” becomes “I can!” I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
What’s important to see is that this CAN DO spirit is LEARNED – “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” (Phil 4:11)
• Where did he learn it from? Experience. In ministry. In his encounters.
• Paul learns that God is enough for him, through his walk with God over time.
• He learns to rely on God, one circumstance at the time, one hardship at a time, one difficulty at a time.
If you make a constant choice to trust God, one choice at a time, you will find your faith grows even greater the next time a difficult situation arises.
• Paul’s faith grew as he walked with God. He learned to trust in God’s strength day-by-day. And now in all circumstances.
• I don’t think he got to know this right at the beginning. He learnt it, he says.
What have you learn in your walk with God?