I Can Do “All Things?”

Week two of the Olympic Games is upon us. It will be hard next week not to turn on the TV at 8PM and expect to see Bob Costas introduce the night’s events. Seeing so many athletes being interviewed reminds me of a passage of Scripture that is often used by Christian athletes- Philippians 4:13. It reads, I can do all things through him [Christ] who strengthens me. Many athletes use this verse as motivation in their efforts. Some take it as a promise that they can achieve all their goals as an individual and for their team. “All things” comes to mean championships, most valuable player accolades, etc.

This is sadly a misuse of this verse.

God nowhere promises success in any and every endeavor. Believe it or not, He is able to use our failures and our disappointments for great benefit. He can show us that winning or personal glory may have become an idol. He can show us that our identity is best placed in Jesus Christ. He alone is our glory. When we constantly rest in His righteousness and His sacrificial death on our behalf, we are freed from the need to prove ourselves. That is actually freeing.

In context, Philippians 4:13 talks about contentment. Look at verse 13 in the context of verses 10-12:  I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 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. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

            The “all things” Paul talks about is being content in all circumstances – whether in plenty or in hunger, in abundance or in need. We could insert as well whether in winning or in losing, whether in a gold medal or last place finish. In all these things I can be content through Christ.

We all struggle with contentment. This is a fallen world so there are things about ourselves or our circumstances that disappoint us. Let’s remember Philippians 4:13 as a resource for finding contentment. It’s found in Jesus Christ- not in Olympic glory.