Philippians 4:10-13

Today we will get back to the book of Philippians and our “Bridges of Joy” series. In chapter 4 of the letter Paul makes a statement that has probably been quoted more than anything else Paul ever wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Many of the often quoted verses of the Bible are done so without recognition of context or full grasp of why they were written. Why something is written is often just as important as what was written and without that grasp of context we can make Scripture fit our lives rather than realizing that our lives are to be lived in a way that fits into Scripture. “Judge not that you be not judged”, without the context of the Sermon on the Mount sounds like we are to all live from our own conscience and never give thought to judgment of each other’s actions, motives, thoughts or hearts when the context actually teaches us that we are not to judge in anything but righteousness because we will be judged by the same manner in which we give judgment. It is not a call to turn a blind eye to each other; it is a call to be sure that our hearts are led by righteousness in all things, including judgment. “’For I know the plans that I have for you’, declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Without the context of God sending Judah into captivity as judgment for their idolatry this sounds like a verse that promises that all things will always be as we want them to be. The reality is that Judah was about to be taken captive for 70 years, God’s promise was that even His judgment is redemptive, that even calamity will produce repentance and so all of His plans are not for the purpose of harm but for the production of salvation. Prosperity in the eternal realm is trading the perishable for the imperishable; prosperity in the earthly realm is having today what you did not have yesterday; which do you think God was promising to Judah through Jeremiah? “I can do all things through Christ who gives me Strength.” Without the context of the rest of the letter to the Philippians it sounds like a promise that whatever you choose to do God will give you the strength to do it, isn’t that the opposite of “whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God”? Our use of this verse sometimes reveals that we are using Jesus to fulfill our will far more than we are being used by Jesus for His. This verse, in the context of this letter is a summation, it is Paul’s closing argument and stirring conclusion. He is not assuring a people that Jesus will strengthen them to accomplish their goals and dreams; He is giving them one final call to abandonment, to surrender, to faithfulness and to martyrdom. Today I pray that we will all see that the call to “do all things through Christ” is only fulfilled by first counting “all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ”. Today I pray that we will open our ears, our minds and most of all our hearts to the call of martyrdom not being a foremost call to death, but a call to life in a way in which Jesus in glorified, I am crucified and the world around us is reconciled.