This verse from Philippians 4:13 is one favourite verse many Christians like to recite – as if in it lies the secret to being like superman! Doing all things, making all things possible – of course with the important ingredient/phrase – through Christ who gives me strength. I used to think that this verse is a great one to memorise because then I can be empowered to do all things – until one day, I heard in the seminary classroom that this verse was written in the context of being generous.
Paul wrote this verse in the context of the having received the gift of the Philippians – financial gift. Yet, v.11 tells us that Paul did not speak from want – as in ‘want’ for ‘need’ – lacking the necessities of life. What’s his secret? He learned an important lesson in life. the important lesson of contentment – no matter his circumstance! Oh it is so easy to say, I am content with my life – when I live so comfortably – with the comforts that life has to offer. But to say that I am content even when I am in prison or when I have gone through beatings, and shipwrecks and enemies’ persecution… that is the true essence of contentment. Paul learned – he was not born like that. He learned to get along in humble means, he learned to live in good times and bad. He learned the secret of being full and going on empty stomach – in prosperity and in poverty! This is the context of Paul’s doing all things – he is content in all circumstances of life because his strength is found in Jesus Christ. He is the one who gives us strength to rejoice always – to rejoice greatly, to be content in ‘whatever circumstances’ that we are in.
10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. 14 Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction.