My name is Keith Giles. I love to write so that people can know Jesus and experience His life in their own.
So, I started this blog to help people understand who Jesus is, and how He reveals what the Father is really like.
This is a safe place to talk about all those questions you've had about the Bible, and Christianity. It's also a place to learn how to put the words of Jesus into practice.
Monday, October 06, 2014
I CAN DO ANYTHING THROUGH CHRIST [BUT I WON’T DO THAT]
“I can do all things through Him
who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13)
I’ve heard Christians
quote Philippians 4:13 to apply to everything, except the one thing that Paul
intended it for: The ability to let go of possessions and be content with
Even more frustrating is to hear Christian teachers and pastors
quote that verse to justify an emphasis on getting more possessions and petitioning
Jesus for greater abundance.
The reason this is infuriating to me is that the entire
passage becomes twisted to mean something that Paul never said. The clue is to
read the entire passage in context, and if you do that you’ll read:
that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I
am to be content.I know how to be brought low, and I know how
to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing
plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” (Phil. 4:11-12)
It’s only after saying all of that that
Paul concludes: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” in verse
Paul’s point is that God empowers him to be
content no matter what his circumstances may be. He is not urging us to invoke the
name of Christ to gain more status, or wealth, or to accomplish our own selfish
goals, or anything other than resting in the promise of God’s goodness and daily
Another verse that is similarly used out of
context is: “With man this is impossible,
but with God all things are possible.” (Matt. 19:26)
This is perhaps even more infuriating a
verse to quote in the context of getting more stuff, amassing greater wealth,
or accomplishing our own selfish purposes. Why? Because this verse is spoken by
Jesus as the Rich Young Ruler walks away after refusing to give up all that he
has to follow Christ.
Jesus says this to point out that the “impossible”
thing is for a rich person to give up their wealth and share it with the poor
to become a Disciple. Therefore, in context, what is “possible” with God is
simply this: The ability for a rich person to love Jesus more than their money.
In our modern, American version of Christianity, Jesus often
exists to give us a better life of ease and comfort. Some have pointed out that
in America we say, “Come to Christ and you’ll get a better job, a stronger
marriage, have nicer kids and enjoy the blessings of an abundant life.” But in
the rest of the world they say, “Come to Christ and you may lose your job, your
marriage, your kids, and endure persecution, imprisonment and possibly death.”
Certainly we enjoy less difficulties in America, but rather
than seeing our abundance as a sign of God’s favor – or a right that we deserve
somehow – perhaps we should realize that our freedom and comfort allow us to
provide a measure of relief for our brothers and sisters who are enduring
persecution and poverty around the world.
Isn’t that what Paul is really talking about in his letter
to the Philippians? He is suffering so that his brothers and sisters may be blessed
and he wants them to learn that same lesson.
Isn’t that what Jesus wants us to do? Loving God and loving
others are connected ideas. If we love God we will be generous with our
abundance and share what we have with our brothers and sisters in need,
wherever they may be.
If this sounds challenging to you, just remember: “I can do
all things through Christ who strengthens me” and “With man this is impossible,
but with God, all things are possible.”