“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress.”—Philippians 4:13–14 (NKJV)
This commonly quoted verse is actually more accurately phrased: “Through Christ, I have strength in all things.” In context, the verse isn’t referring to being able to do all things. Instead, the apostle Paul is stating that he is able to endure or bear anything that has come—and will come—his way through the strength Christ supernaturally provides.
The word strength (ischyō) means to face the “necessary resistance that brings what the Lord defines as success.” It’s a term that refers to the Lord strengthening us with all that is necessary for us to endure and achieve that for which He gives us faith. So, in every way, faith and strength go hand-in-hand as the Lord provides faith and the strength through His Spirit.
The key to both faith and strength then depends on us casting aside the prideful notion of self-sufficiency. This means understanding our weakness—our sinful nature and our inability to truly achieve anything on our own (Matthew 19:26)—and embracing a reliance on the salvation of God’s grace through Christ. When we come to this place, we find this inexplicable and indescribable strength of the Lord, a strength that is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Thus, humility is the true secret to strength. This verse truly represents the necessary mindset of the Christ-follower.
Having said all of that, laying all the groundwork that he did starting back in verse 4:10 regarding the care the Philippians gave him—first establishing that he wasn’t rejoicing because they met a need, because he didn’t need anything apart from Christ—he revealed that the reason for his rejoicing at their gift is because of what it says about them and their walk with Christ.
He told them that they did well in sending their generous gift, because they embraced and embodied the gospel. They made his affliction and trial their own. They sought to help Paul bear his burden (Galatians 6:2). They exemplified the apostle’s words from Acts 20:35 (NKJV): “It is more blessed to give than to receive” in that Paul received a generous physical, temporary blessing, but the Philippians received the spiritual blessing that comes from fulfilling the heart of Christ. Not only that, they stored up for themselves treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:20), and Paul rejoiced in this.
1. How did this truth influence and change the way Paul lived his life?
2. What’s that one thing you want to do, but you can’t do without the power of Christ in your life?