August 7, 2022

The promise of a bible verse tempered by Christian reality

If you need a raise at work, don’t worry – you can do anything through Christ giving you strength.

If you want a new car, don’t worry, you can do anything through Christ giving you strength.

If you want to play in the NFL, don’t worry! You can do anything through Christ who gives you strength.

If you want to grow wings and fly, rather than facing traffic, then don’t worry. You can do anything through Christ who gives you strength!

We love Philippians 4:13, because he seems to claim that we can do whatever we want, because Jesus himself will give us the supernatural ability to fulfill our heart’s desires.

Except, then, we have to grapple with reality, and when the way we see reality and the way we understand the scriptures don’t match up, we have to adjust our understanding of one or the other, or the two. of them.

In reality, we don’t have the strength to do everything we want to do.

Maybe this verse you like doesn’t mean what you think it means.

In 2011, Christian publishing giant Zondervan published a revised edition of the New International Version of the Bible. It caused a lot of controversy, and Bible nerds either loved it or hated it, mostly based on the high-level philosophy adopted by translators.

For my part, I loved it. Not because of the high level translation philosophy, but because of one word: “this”.

When the translators of NIV 2011 reviewed the acclaimed scripture of Philippians 4:13, they added the word “this.”

It reads: “I can do all of this through the one who gives me strength. »(We are the ones underlining)

With one word, they brilliantly solved the interpretation problem with Philippians 4:13, forcing the reader to consider the context.

Paul wrote his letter to the church in Philippi while imprisoned – most likely in Rome – with a few purposes.

He wanted to affirm their fellowship in Christ, strengthen the church, and express their gratitude for a gift they had sent him.

Most importantly, he wanted to make sure that when he received the gift, they understood that the gift was truly to God as their mutual patron and benefactor, and not to Paul as a client of the Philippine church.

Paul wanted to remain radically engaged and faithful to Jesus Christ, not to one local church. He wanted to make sure that the gift he had received did not oblige him to the Philippians.

So he ends his short letter by assuring the church in Philippi that while he appreciated their help, he did not need it because, he said, “I have learned the secret of being content in n any situation. (Philippians 4:12) Paul knew how to be content with having a lot or nothing.

He knew how to love the Lord and what he was doing in and through Paul, whether the circumstances were good or painful. He could serve the Lord no matter what, and he could “do it all through him who gives me strength.” (Ph 4:13)

He claimed to be able to do whatever Jesus wanted, because of the strength Jesus gave him. He could endure the shipwreck because Jesus wanted to. He could go hungry because Jesus wanted him to. He could walk to the log, look at the swordsman with the love of Christ in his eyes, and give up his life because Jesus wanted to.

Jesus may not want you to get a raise.

Jesus may want you to keep driving that old jerk to keep you humble, he may have better plans for you than to be in the NFL, and your body has no wings because you weren’t. made in the image of the seraphim, but in the image of God himself.

When you consider what you will do with your life, you can count on the strength of Jesus only for the things he desires. And when you direct your life towards what Jesus wants, you can only count on the strength he gives you to do it.

Philippians 4:13 therefore applies only to those who follow Jesus all their lives and depend on him to accomplish his will in their lives. If you want to grasp the strength of the promised Christ, then embrace the mission of Christ. Take up your cross daily and follow it.

Looking Up is on YouTube at Kyle Hooks is the Associate Pastor at Angelo Bible Church. Contact him at 325-716-4258 or on Facebook at