The Pauline Epistles have a way of hitting home for me. The way Paul describes and simplifies complicated Biblical truth always givings me clarity, peace, understanding and conviction. The ending of Philippians is one of the most convicting for me. Paul is thanking the Church in Philipi for supporting him in his ministry. This is what he says after he thanks them…
I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:12-13 NLT
At first this seems like a back handed ending to a compliment, a thank you.. but, I would have been fine either way, I appreciate your help but I didn’t really need it…..I don’t think that was Paul’s intent here. I think Paul wanted to use this opportunity to illustrate an important truth. This life is full of highs and lows, feasts and famine, good times and bad. And usually there isn’t much more than a comma or semicolon between them. The nature of life as a human is one of uncertainty, especially if we are committed to a life in service of the Gospel the way Paul was. Most of us are too fearful of the lows to truly be 100% reliant on Christ. Paul didn’t allow fear to stop him. He had the highest highs and the lowest lows. Extemes most of us will never know. But still we have highs and lows and need to find the secret to being content in all of it. Paul says he found the secret to living in any circumstance, it’s full reliance on Christ. We can find this verse on tshirts, hats, window clings and almost everywhere else….”I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” Paul isn’t talking about winning a state championship in football or nailing a presentation to the executive board at the office, the way we sometimes use this verse (which is ok). Paul is talking about contentment in any situation, anything that comes Paul gets his strength from Christ and knows Jesus isn’t unaware and hasn’t abandoned him. The same is true for us, no matter where our circumstances may land us, we can know Jesus is already there and He is offering us the strength to get through it.
This word from Paul makes me look at a “bad day” at work for me and realize it’s really not that bad, I’m not truly suffering, I’m not going without and I’m not 100% reliant on Jesus the way I should be. I’m not asking for 39 lashings and ship wrecks but I would like to live my life more reliant on Christ the way Paul did. I can do it and we can do it. We can’t allow fear to stop us.