The Reading: Philippians 4:8-13
“I can do all things in him who strengthens me” (v.13) RSV
Last week we learnt of the positivity of adopting a spirit of rejoicing. This week we learn the need to adopt a positive spirit as to what we can do by God’s strength. This is not the same as the power of positive thinking. This is not boosting our trust in our own ability. But it is strengthening our trust in God’s ability through us: a very different thing.
As Paul says, “I can do all things in him who strengthens me” (v.13). We note that he is not saying that he can do all things. He can only do those things that the Lord is strengthening him to do. It doesn’t mean therefore that he can win any race and pass any exam. It does mean, however, that whatever he should be doing, the Lord will be with him in doing it. Even this is not guaranteeing success; for instance, he may be a Spirit-filled and powerful evangelist but still no one may respond.
What it does for Paul, and what it can do for us, it to liberate us to be confident and proactive in any situation. It will stop us being limited by our natural ability (or lack of ability) and will inspire us to press forward and have a go. How many of us are limited by self-imposed limitations?
Paul has come to this the hard way. Mind you, even before his conversion he did not seem to lack confidence and self- assurance. However, he had to learn to fail and he had to learn how to rejoice in prison. He had to learn how to live on very little. It was a hard lesson, but now that he is writing to the Philippians he can finally assert, “I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content.”
The Lord wants our minds renewed to understand this. He wants us to believe that his Spirit within us can give us the strength to abound in any and every situation in which we find ourselves. He doesn’t guarantee us success or prosperity, but he does guarantee us his presence.
Lord, thank you that I can do all things in Christ. Create in me a calm faith and confidence in you. Amen.
1 What does Paul tell Timothy about contentment?
2 What did Paul learn to be content with?