When I was so much younger, then we were getting to understand the New Creation Realities bit by bit, we had some extremes that we held on to so zealously and most times we did this in all sincerity, doing our best to guard the doctrine that we had received, a doctrine that had set us free and brought us a fresh and more powerful perspective of the scripture.
One of the things we had been taught and we taught was Philippians 4:13 which read “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” While we have been champions of context, insisting that all scriptural explanations must be done in context, we failed to take the above verse personal according to the context; we took it personal according to our desires.
It is common to see a believer say things like “I accept every manner of contract because I am positive that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength”. I was in a conference when the preacher said “even if you are not qualified for a job, don’t worry! Apply for it! When they employ you and you don’t know what to do, enter your office alone and begin to declare ‘I can do all things’…”
It was usually exciting to hear or teach such things; it sends the crowd cheering you up and getting motivated. A motivation that at its best is falsehood! It was so beautiful to the ear to hear that you can make all the millions in the world through Christ, you can pass your exams, you can become the President of your country, you can become the richest man on earth through Christ, who gives you strength. So, the qualification for achieving all those feats became ‘Christianity’ in our view.
So, once you believe in Jesus, you can do everything! Of course, we all had a consensus that you can’t fornicate through Christ or commit murder through Christ. We were good at explaining that sin wasn’t involved in the list of things we can’t do through Christ but we paid less attention to the grey areas, the main point Saint Paul was trying to make when he made that statement.
If we should understand what Paul was saying or if we should put it in context, “all things” becomes less attractive and so many believers would take a walk out of that portion of the scripture. We grew up realizing that even unbelievers were achieving things we taught we’d achieve through Christ, they were doing so well in that regard without Jesus and some of us were left to wonder “were we scammed?” No, the writings of Paul didn’t scam you, wrong interpretation scammed you.
Let’s take a look at the verse before the popular positive confession
“Now I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this out of need, for I have learned to be content regardless of my circumstances. I know how to live humbly, and I know how to abound. I am accustomed to any and every situation—to being filled and being hungry, to having plenty and having need.” Philippians 4:10-12
Paul was talking about the circumstances he was going through, he had learned contentment, he had experienced highs and lows, and he had gotten used to having plenty at some time and becoming hungry as a result of lack of food at other times. It was in this sense that he made that remarkable statement of “all things!”
Here is what Paul was saying, “I can go through all tough times, I go through moments of lack and rejection, I can go through discomfort and hunger, and I can go through persecutions of all kinds through Christ who gives me strength to bear it all.”
Unfortunately, this is where so many ‘positive-confession-addicted’ believers chicken out! We want to live the life of our dreams, we want to have the best that money can buy, we want to live in extreme comfort and we want to get the best jobs in town. This is why some people are professing Christianity, they have been told that the moment they believe in Jesus “everything will be alright”, they have been told that the moment they believe in Jesus “everything will turn around and they’d become successful in everything they do.”
Sorry to disappoint you, Jesus didn’t die on the cross to make you rich, he didn’t die on the cross to give you the job of your dreams, and he didn’t die for you merely so that you can live the life of your dreams. Even before the coming of Jesus, people have been making money, experiencing success and living the life of their dreams.
Until we come to that point where we are willing to follow Jesus in the absence of all good things, we are yet to identify with Jesus who gives us strength to bear it all.