When I was younger, I used to downhill ski a lot. I was a good skier, and loved skiing in powder and moguls, as well as jumping off cliffs and doing aerial tricks like back flips and 360s.
I remember a friend and I facing a particularly steep ski run once, which was full of drop-offs and big cliffs. We were scared but excited, and as we stood at the lip of the chute, my friend looked at me and said, “Just remember, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.'”
With that, we launched into the chute and successfully navigated the terrain without dying.
Looking back, I laugh at ourselves for using Philippians 4:13 in such a way. When Paul wrote this verse, the last thing he had in mind was skiing down a steep snow-covered hill, and it is probably not true that Christ gives us strength to do so.
And yet people use Philippians 4:13 in similar ways all the time. They quote it at sporting events, or when they are applying for a job, facing a sickness, or struggling with some difficult stage in life.
But when Paul wrote Philippians 4:13, he meant nothing of the sort. Here is what he wrote:
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
This is a great Scripture on Strength, but must be applied properly. In the context of Philippians 4:13, Paul is writing that through many years of serving Jesus, he has learned to live in times of plenty, and times of want. He has learned to live as a free man, and learned to live as a prisoner. No matter what situation he is facing, Paul has learned to be content, and it is Christ who gives him to the strength to persevere through whatever Paul faces.
So what is the promise for us from Philippians 4:13? It is not that Christ will give us strength to ski down difficult slopes, or give us a certain job, or provide us with a good income to get through life. No, it is that as we are serving, honoring, and following Jesus, we will face difficult and trying times. And when these times come, Jesus will give us the strength to get through this situation and to be content within in.
Can we take comfort from Philippians 4:13? Yes, in the areas where we are suffering for following Jesus. But in the other areas, we must be careful not to quote the Scripture out of context.
Scriptural Books on Strength
Here are some helpful books for learning more about what Scripture teaches on the topic of strength. Click on a book below to see pricing and reviews.