2 Corinthians 11:30-31 NKJV and Philippians 4:11-13 NKJV
It’s day five of our series on Discovering Hope Through Faith, and we find another one of those verses that’s kind of a slogan for Christian’s. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
You know by now that I like to take a look at verses like this through the lens of the Amplified Version of the Bible…and when we look at this one it reads like this: ” I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].”
“I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him How infuses inner strength into me; and I am self-suffiecient in Christ’s sufficiency.” I already know without asking where most of you stopped reading. When you read the part “I am self-suffiecient”, but sometimes, beloved, you have to keep reading…to find that our self-suffieciency isn’t about us is it? Now…it’s through Christ’s sufficiency.
Do you know what the context of this use of “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” is? Paul said that in response to learning how to be content with what ever state he’s in…even if it means writing from prison.
That’s right, friends, Paul was writing this letter from prison, and let me make sure you understand that prison in Paul’s day is nothing like prison in today’s society. However, Paul learned to be content…in whatever state he was in. He goes on to say that he is instructed both to be full and to be hungry, to abound and suffer need.
Again, maybe to understand the magnitude of the context of what Paul’s saying let us go back to the Ampilified. Paul writes: “I have learned how to be content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am in. I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going without and being in want…I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; and I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency”
He learn that in any and all circumstances the key to facing those situations is knowing that the inner strength to get through them comes from Christ. It’s Christ’s sufficiency that made Paul self-sufficient. It wasn’t his will power, it wasn’t his desires or passions for Jesus, it wasn’t all his knowledge of the law, it wasn’t anything inside of him that gave him that inner strength…except for Christ.
We can all learn something here. In the middle of the worst circumstances in Paul’s life he discovered hope because he had faith. Not in his abilities, but in Christ’s ability to give him the ability to overcome. I just explained to you that one of the circumstances Paul is talking about is the fact that he was penning that letter while he was in prison, and like we’ve already said prison wasn’t anywhere near as accomodating back then as it is today.
However, because of his faith he knew that no matter what situation he was in…he had the strength to endure it because he knew Jesus was with him.
We can have that same certainty today…that no matter what situation or circumstance we are in we can face them because Christ is not only with us, but he’s IN us. Whether we’re in humble circumstances or living in abundance we need to always be reminded that we didn’t get there because of our strength and abilities…because the truth is we don’t even have our strengths and abilities without Christ.
I know. I hear in my spirit some of you saying that “I got where I am today because of me. God didn’t help me…in fact I don’t even think He helped me. I did this.”
First of all, if you think for one moment that everything worked out just perfectly because of you…then you are way too full of pride…and need to repent because while you may think that God wasn’t involve…I can guarantee you that He was at work behind the scenes. Then again, I can also tell you that the reason God didn’t help you is because you never asked Him to, and perahps if you did…then it wouldn’t have taken so long to finally get where you were trying to go…and perhaps it wouldn’t have been so difficult a road trying to get there…but you didn’t get where you are today on you own.
Secondly, where do you think you got the abilities to do what you do? Where do you think that you get the strength to overcome? Let me help you out here. Even if you think you learned it from life on life’s terms…who do you think Life’s terms comes from?
Finally, Jesus Himself had to rely upon the Holy Spirit, and be in constant communication with the Father in order to fulfill what He was sent to do. If Jesus didn’t say anything He didn’t here the Father say, and didn’t do anything that He didn’t see the Father do…then what in the world make you think that you are so special that you could do and overcome situations and circumstances without Him? In you do…then refer back to point one.
Look, if anyone in the Christian walk had the right to be prideful it was the man who was writing about how he needed Christ’s sufficiency in order to find his self-sufficiency. I don’t know how many times I’ll have to write that Paul was the Pharasee of Pharasee’s, Paul received the gospel that we are to preach today personally from Jesus, he got to see the heaven that Jesus was preparing for us, and he had things revealed to him that no man before or after (except maybe John’s in the book of Revelation). I would like to invite you to take a look at 2 Corinthians 11:22 – 33 and see some of the things Paul went through…and as I said if anyone had the reason or right to ever be prideful it’s Paul….but even here as he tells us all he’s been through…what does he say? Does he say he’s so great because he survived? Does he throw his shoulders back and say “look what I’ve done”? No…he says if he must boast then he’ll do so over his infirmities…or as the Amplified puts it: “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that [show] my infirmity [of the things by which I am made weak and contemptible in the eyes of my opponents]. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ knows, He Who is blessed and to be praised forevermore, that I do not lie.”
What’s he saying here? He can do all things through Christ Who is his strength, and after all he’s been through he boasts in his weaknesses…and that Christ is the one who validates what he’s been through.
Listen, Christ knows about every last thing that we’ve been through. No matter what it is that you’ve been through in life…He knows about it…and if Paul was able to get through everything that happened to him there’s a couple of things here that we need to point out.
You didn’t go through anything that God didn’t know about, and you didn’t go through it alone. He walked with you every step of the way, and just like the person in the footprint’s poem…the times that you only saw one set of footprint’s in your life weren’t yours…but His. He carried you through, and while you may not have known it while you were going through it…now…you do.
There’s never a time in our lives when we are walking alone…He’s always walking beside us…but it’s up to us to acknowledge that…and walk with Him.
“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.” (1 Corinthians 16:23-24)
Blessing & Grace to you
Bryan J. Kizer