Summary: Understanding Phil. 4:13
Reaching Beyond “I Can Do”
I was in a conversation with a friend of mine several years ago. We were talking about hope and faith. His position was that hope comes before faith and my position was that it was hard to have hope without having faith. We were discussing one of the most important things to give a congregation. At this time I was operating in the faith movement and everything was about faith. What I have learned over the years since that time is that He was right – we have to give people hope and the faith will follow. Paul said in Hebrews 6:18-19 that “... that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil.” (NAS) Paul speaks of the hope that we have in Christ – that it guarantees our safety. Later in the 11th chapter, verse 1, he says: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (NAS) What Paul says plainly is that we must first have hope and then our faith will bring what we hope for into reality. I will deal with this more at a later date. However, this morning I want you to think about hope and faith as it relates to us reaching beyond “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13, NAS)
In our daily lives we have opportunities to make decisions that affect the rest of our lives. Everyday we make decisions based on our understanding of what is going on around us, often without consideration as to what God would have us to do. How we make decisions is directly influenced by out attitudes in any given situation. Whether you respond to a circumstance in faith or out of survival instinct, it all depends on your attitude. Paul gave us insight into this with his statements in Phil. 4:12-13 – telling us how he has grown in his understanding of what is available to him through Christ. He shows us that it is a process – we must grow in this.
As children, we made decisions based on what we wanted, not what was best for us. If we wanted it, that was all that mattered. As we grew into adulthood, our decision making processes developed and we began, sometimes with harsh lessons, making decisions based on our understanding of what was best for us. Sometimes we even remembered to pray and ask God about it before we actually made the decision. Our desires begin to come more in line with our needs and what we can afford to have rather than on what is best for us – in our own minds. This process of development is what differentiates adults from children, the ability to know what is best for you and to make those decisions appropriately. How many times have we said to our kids “you may not know what is best for you…?” The reason is that wisdom and understanding comes with age and maturity – based on life experiences.
This morning I want to show you that all of us, from the youngest to the oldest, must walk a similar journey of development as we grow in Christ. As we begin our Christian walk, our experiences and our responses to them begin to change and take on a whole new meaning. Look at what Paul said in Romans 12:2: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (NAS)
When we become Christians, the first thing we must do is start the process of renewing our minds – recognizing that things have and will continue to change. This change involves a renewing of our minds. What happens is that the old man (our old ways and thought patterns) must begin to yield to our new man, who begins to develop within us through the aid of the Holy Spirit. As we study and learn more and more about God, we are able to yield our wills to Him, we transition from being focused on us to being focused on Him. By asking ourselves “What does God want me to do?”, Paul admonishes us to not be conformed to this world – in other words we must not take on the image, ways or though patterns of the world – but be transformed. To be transformed is to be changed – to become different from what you are today. Why must we renew our minds? So that we can prove what the will of God is – globally and individually. Globally as we walk as Christians, individually as we begin to fulfill what God has called us to do – to walk in what He has called us to walk in. Each of us have a responsibility to do and complete what God has called us to do – whatever that may be. By doing this we begin to fulfill our part in proving the will of God for the world.