Philippians 4:13 is one of the most popular motivational scriptures: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
We see it in T-shirts and posters and tattoos. Philippians 4:13 is recited before we take tests, go for job interviews, play football games, or tackle the tough things in life.
It’s what I would imagine a Christian hero in an action movie would say right before the final battle.
But this scripture isn’t just about the challenges that make us nervous or the ones that make us sweat. This scripture is also about helping us relax and rest.
The Context is Contentment
Take a look at Philippians 4:13 in context.
11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 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. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
When Paul is speaking about what he can do through Christ’s strength, he is talking about being content.
Christ does give us the strength to conquer and fight and strive if that’s his will. He gives us the strength to ace that test or amaze in that job interview if that’s his will.
But that’s not what Paul is talking about here. Paul mentions needing Christ’s strength to do something even tougher: to be content.
Why does stress mount in your life? Why do you feel the urge to do more and more and more?
There are multiple causes, but one is a lack of contentment.
Your job is not to be superhuman. Your job is to be a faithful steward of your time. Do that, and then be content with the results. Be content with the process.
You’ll need Christ’s strength to empower you to be a faithful steward. And you’ll need his strength to put on the brakes and rest.
Our Own Expectations
There’s a righteous tension when we aren’t being faithful stewards.
But how much of our anxiety isn’t really a holy conviction but instead a lack of contentment?
We need his strength to steward our time well. But do you need his strength to lay down the weight of your own expectations?
Photo Credit: davedjoe (Creative Commons)
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