Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Fellowship of Christ’s Strength (Philippians 4:10-13)

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 ESV)

People tend to take this passage out of context and make it mean that we can do anything with God’s help. Some soften or perhaps improve on that by clarifying that we can do anything God wants with His help and power. What is interesting is to examine this passage in the context of the paragraph in which it was written.

What Paul is saying specifically here, is that he (and we can infer we too) can go through any hardship or suffering God allows to come our way with His strength. This truth in turn helps us to see two implications that it would be helpful for every follower of Jesus to keep in mind.

(1) Hardships and suffering can be and often are a part of God’s plan for the lives of His people.

(2) How easy, how painless, how desirable or cheap a thing may be is no measure of whether or not it is God’s will for our lives.

Too many Christians today use the “open door” test to determine God’s will. It is a lousy and unbiblical way to go about making decisions. It goes something like this:

God will open the doors to the directions that He wants us to take in life, and He will conversely “close the door” to the directions He does not want us to go.

The opening or closing of the door is often taken to be the placing of obstacles prohibiting us from doing things. As an example of how ridiculous this is, consider a man trying to decide whether or not to cheat on his wife. If given the opportunity, he would have to take that as an “open door.” That is not only unbiblical, it is silly. A better method is to learn those things that please God and act accordingly, whether it be easy or hard to do. We should use our best judgment informed by Biblical teaching.

It is also just as common these days to consider anything that would lead to hardship or sacrifice as being a closed door. Somewhere along the way some churches came up with the idea that God does not allow His people to face difficulties. This is also an idea that is not supported by Scripture.

God’s plan for His people often involves hardship, suffering or sacrifice. We can get through all of that, in the same way that we accomplish all of the things He asks of us: with His help.

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