Doing All Things Through Christ for Christ

As I write this, I am confronted with my own life changing lesson: It has been seven years since the fall from the roof and the shattered pelvis. The date was 31 Jan 2007. Since that day, all the prosperity I possessed has been devoured and I seem to be failing at every endeavor undertaken.

Like the man at the Pool Bethesda, I have complained; sometimes wondering what is the purpose of my life and why does God drag these difficult times on. Many times I have repented of my attitude. However, knowing God is in control of all things is easier than living like He is sovereign.

Through His word, God showed me the life of Paul. He lived purposefully for God’s glory, yet he was continually encumbered by trial. And I read about Paul learning to live in Christ’s strength. . .

One of the most wrongly interpreted verses in the Bible is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” For modern, American Christians, this is our motivational verse. It is commonly used to prompt us to set our minds upon overcoming obstacles and accomplishing great things – usually for our glory supplemented by an “I give all praise to God for this” or something like that. But this is not the meaning of the verse at all.

Let’s look at the context of the verse: In first verse of Philippians chapter four, Paul exhorts his readers to stand firm in the Lord. We go to the last verse in chapter three to find out why, because there is a “therefore” in the first verse. The reason is: all things will be subject to Him. So, we stand firm in the Lord because He is sovereign over all things. Just like Solomon wrote, “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” [Ecc 12:13]. To reinforce this ideal, Paul wrote about submitting our worries – or our glory – to God and having thoughts that glorify Him and exalt Him (Php 4:4-8). Or, as John Piper would say, “our dangerous duty of delight.” After this, he wrote with thanksgiving about the generosity of the Philippians and regardless, God has taught him to live in His strength, whether rich or poor – all things. The context of the verse is not about getting strength from God to overcome obstacles for our glory. The context is about the power to live purposefully for His glory in every situation.

Learning the secret, as Paul wrote, is the key because he was not talking about merely getting through bad times in hopes of good times. It is living life with contentment – or thankfulness – to glorify God whatever He sets before us. According to what Paul wrote, our purpose is to live to God’s glory, whatever the circumstance – all things – trusting in His strength. And, like Paul, we have to learn this.

The other day, I was talking with a friend about my situation of loss and the frustration of continually working without gain. Then I said, “Even if it is God’s will that I never prosper again, so be it. May God be praised.” This is good – this is what doing all things through Christ is all about. But after a bit more discussion, I said, “Maybe one day God will yet bless me. I hope He does not leave me like this” or something to this effect. Later when I was alone and relaxing, the conversation came back to me and I realized I had not learned what Paul was writing about in Philippians 4:13. I was not content in all things nor had I learned to do all things – whether hungry or prosperous – through Christ. Rather than seeking God’s kingdom (Mat 6:10, 33), I was still yearning for my own.

The essence of doing all things through Christ is to be seeking His kingdom (see Joh 15:1-11). It is not about accomplishing great and mighty works because our walk with Christ is not about adrenalin. It is about dependence upon Him – both in our circumstances and in abiding with Him throughout and for the duration of our situation. Plenty and hunger, abundance and need – His kingdom, not our own.

Paul was writing about releasing our grip on our empires and taking up our cross to follow Christ – this is what the Book of Philippians is about. We know this because:

  • a few verses before he told us
    • not to be anxious or, worried about our kingdom (Php 4:6); and
  • a few verses before he told us
    • our citizenship is in heaven and we must forget what is behind (our empire) and press on for the prize of God’s kingdom (Php 3:12-21); and
  • a few verses before he told us
    • to count our lives rubbish so we may gain Christ and be found in Him – not in our lives down here (Php 3:1-11); and
  • a few verses before he told us
    • to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, submitting to God who works in us His good pleasure or, His kingdom – not ours (Php 2:12-13); and
  • a few verses before he told us
    • it is Christ before whom every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess Him to be Lord – He will be the only kingdom (Php 2:9-11); and
  • a few verses before he told us
    • just as Christ humbled Himself, we should humble ourselves and put others ahead of us – doing nothing out of selfish ambition or, for our own empire (Php 2:1-8); and
  • a few verses before he told us
    • to live our lives worthy of the Gospel, striving for the Gospel and willing to suffer for the Gospel or, surrendering our lives to His kingdom (Php 1:27-29).

This is hard for us to do because our fallen nature is selfish and we seek to build our own empires. But, thank God,

  • a few verses before he told us
    • He who began a good work in us will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ – in His kingdom (Php 1:6).

Therefore, when life seems to be going well and we find ourselves abounding in wealth and good health, we must not be trusting in our empires. We must walk with Christ as if we have nothing but Him. When life seems to be going poor and we find ourselves short in wealth or health, we must not despair. We must walk with Christ as if we have nothing but Him. Doing all things through Christ is about trusting in Him and not in our own resources or abilities – whether we find ourselves abounding or hungry, prosperous or in need.

God is teaching me to live in His strength and I am also learning to be grateful for the lessons.

About the author: cominus

Cominus is the pen-name for Dean Isaacson. He was chairman of the Snohomish County Republican Central Committee (Washington) 1990 to 1992. He conducted legal research for the late Supreme Court Justice William C. Goodloe for several years and led Judicial Forum for many years. Now, he is a crazy kinda guy who spends most his time doing cold calls. He plays his harmonica in the truck because people don't want to listen to him practice - but his dog, Miles (black dachshund), loves to sing along. He is passionate about being passionate because everyone is really into passionate these days but tires easily and hides behind emails. His core belief is you will choose to serve God or you will serve the state - tyrants, as William Penn called it.

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