How many of you have been walking through Hobby Lobby and have seen those hand-painted signs with the words, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength"? Some of you may even have these signs in your house right now. Maybe you’ve heard a friend say they can do anything through Christ and they meant that they could pass the test they didn’t study for. This doesn’t seem like it is quite what Paul meant in this verse.
Does saying “I can do all things through Christ” mean that we can climb Mt. Everest without any training or prep? Does it mean we can fly? Or does it mean we can have superhuman strength or conquer the world? Many people take this verse out of context to support a “Super-Christian” mentality. That is why we have to look at what this verse truly means in its context.
When you look at the surrounding verses, you can see that Paul is talking about the peace of God and contentment. Verses 11-12 say, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Then he says he can do all things. So, when Paul says he can do all things, he means he can be content through Christ Jesus. He can be at peace when he has hardly anything and when he has more than he needs.
Paul even lays out ways for us to have a mindset of contentment. Beginning in verse 4, he shares, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” One way we can live in contentment is by continually choosing to delight in the Lord because we know that he is coming back. We know we have eternal life in Him, HE is our blessed hope, and HE is in control so that we can rejoice. To do this is a choice because we will not always feel like being joyful in him. It's a choice we will have to make again and again.
After that, Paul went on to share another powerful directive on how we should live, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Our circumstances do not need to dictate our inner attitudes because we have guarded our minds. Whenever we experience anxiety about our current situation, we should pray. Then, the peace of God will guard us and we will be able to live in contentment.
This is so contrary to how the world lives. Culture tells us that when we worry, we just need a little self-care. Or maybe, we need to buy something new. They will tell you that you need to make more money and that will solve your anxiety. I think many of us know this is not true. True contentment comes through peace from the Lord. It comes through constantly rejoicing in him and giving him thanks.
Paul tells us to be careful about what we think about in verse 8. He tells us that we should think about things that are noble, true, pure, and so on. We already know from 2 Corinthians that we are to take every thought captive. Thinking this way leads to a life full of peace and contentment. Because when we think of the things Paul talks about, we already have our filter in place. That way, when a thought comes that isn’t godly, we can more easily take it captive.
It is also important to note that Paul mentions the support of the Philippian church as they helped meet his needs. God worked through the church. God works through community. He made us to need and to serve one another. That is why it is so important to be plugged into a body of believers and to be as generous as we can. It is also important to be humble and accept the gifts people want to bless you with.
So, why are we content? Because we have a relationship with God and we know Christ is coming back again. How can we be content? Because we rejoice always; we are thankful. We can be content because, every time we experience a worry, we pray. We can be content by thinking of true, noble, right, pure, excellent, and admirable things. We can be content because we are part of a community of believers who God uses to care for us. And all of this contentment is through Christ who strengthens us. Let’s go throughout today living in contentment and peace since we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength!