I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. – Phil. 4:13 KJV
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The Christians in Phillipi had sent Epaphroditus to the Apostle Paul, who was incarcerated in Rome, with some gifts to help his situation. Paul wrote this letter which he sent through the same Epaphroditus, expressing his appreciation to them for their good gesture and also for their identifying with him in his trying times adding that his being in chains has helped to advance the gospel of Christ – Phil. 1:12-30. He advised them to continue to imitate Christ in their conduct (Phil. 2:1-11) and continue to live their Christian life without complaining or arguing – Phil. 2:12-18. He advised them not to have any confidence in who they or who anyone is, neither should their life achievements, or that of anyone, be what to give so much consideration for (Phil. 3:1-11) but should remain focused on achieving their spiritual goals without looking back – Phil. 3:12-31.
Chapter 4 of his letter to the Phillipians contains his advice to them on how to live and deal with one another (Phil. 4:1-9) after which he eventually appreciated the Phillipians for their good gesture – Phil. 4:10-19. The scripture for today’s devotion came up in the course of doing this.
He had started out on this with the revealing that the Phillipians had always shown concern for his well being with their gifts which they have again commenced after their inability to do so for some time (Phil. 4:10). He clarified that his appreciation to them was not a way of pleading for more or that he was already starved before their gift arrived, adding that he had learned to manage all times, whether good or bad, having experienced times of plenty and times of lack – Phil. 4:11-12. He emphasised his acquisition of the secret knowledge on how to be contented in all situations with the consequence of his having the ability to manage all situations. It was in trying to reveal this ability that he made the comment which is the foundation scripture of today’s devotion. In that scripture, he confidently asserts that he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him.
By that statement made with reference to the ability to manage good and bad times, he implied that he had the capacity to live through all situations, whether in scarcity or abundance, whether well fed or hungry. He meant that none of those conditions was going to make a difference to him with regards to his relationship with the Almighty God and Jesus Christ. That is a profound statement coming from someone who has enjoyed life going by the history of his elitist background (Phil. 2:5-6) and now admitting that there have been times during which he had nothing and those times have provided opportunity to have knowledge on how to manage scarcity times without denying the faith. No wonder he was able to state that nothing can separate him from the love of Christ – Rom. 8:31-39. The secret of that ability which he described as, being contented, is the strength that he has acquired through Christ Jesus to be able to cope in those situations. The Apostle Paul, by this comment, revealed that association with Jesus Christ can provide knowledge to navigate all times, whether good or not so good.
To the Christian today, some things need to be emphasised in the comment of the Apostle Paul.
1. Part of the new things that can happen when we become born again is the loss of comfort that we were probably used to before accepting Jesus as Lord and savior, at least that was part of the experience of Paul.
2. Associating with Christ gives the ability to be able to manage all the different life situations that the born again Christian may be exposed to.
That situation that is not too comfortable to the Christian today should not be considered strange or sufficient to question relationships with the Almighty God and Jesus Christ as the person may not even be as faith full as the Apostle Paul who still experienced both good and not so good times. All that will be required is to grow deeper in Christ Jesus who is able to provide strength to cope with it. Whatever may be lacking in the life of the Christian today including money, friendship, family, health, etc., the Christian should apply the secret of contentment which is the strength that is provided in Christ Jesus. Every not so good or good situation should be patiently presented to him in prayer. The response may not be as expected but will be sufficient to keep the Christian in faith till the end. May Jesus Christ remain our strength in all situations, so that we can remain stable in our Christian life in Jesus name. Amen.