I have a lot of "I can't"s in my life. I can't eat healthy today because it's a special occasion. I can't have my quiet time in prayer because there's a movie on that I have to see. I can't resist buying this purse. (Yes, I hear the giggles over that last one!)
When I have those days or those moments, my mind tries to help out by bringing up my favorite Bible verse, Philippians 4:13, "I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength." And yes, that is encouraging. But what my mind fails to do is emphasize the last 6 words of that verse. I am still powerless on my own, but with Christ I CAN do anything.
I have this verse on an InspiRing that I bought a few weeks ago. I wear it 24-7 to keep it close at hand (no pun intended!).
But today I was thinking about that verse and something our pastor tells us to do - read the verses immediately before and/or after to get the full meaning of a single verse that could be taken out of context. Hmmm....
The book of Philippians is a letter from the apostle Paul to believers in Philippi. It is an uplifting letter because he and Timothy are praising that congregation for their love, their obedience, and their prayers for him in his troubles. But I notice that he doesn't just praise them, he reminds them to KEEP doing the good things they are already doing.
By the time I get to "my" verse, I realize that there really is more to it than meets the eye. Here's what Paul says in verses 11 and 12:
"...I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."
THEN he says that he can do everything through Christ.
So it isn't just that I can do amazing things through the strength I get from Christ (although that is part of it), but that word "content" puts a new spin on things. Content...whatever the circumstances; Content...in any and every situation; Content...in need and in plenty; Content...whether well-fed or hungry. I can be CONTENT in anything with Christ's strength to empower me!
Another thing I notice is that Paul never says he is HAPPY in any of those verses. Happy and Content are two totally different states. Happy depends on outside "stuff"; Content depends on what is INSIDE.
So if I take that realization and apply it to those gripes I listed at the beginning of this post, here's what I find out:
I can be CONTENT to make healthier food choices at this special occasion, or simply eat less of the foods that I do choose.
I can be CONTENT to miss the first part of that movie (which is usually just credits anyway) to make sure I get my time with God.
And a real toughie for me - I can be CONTENT with the purse I have and use my money for something that is a need and not a want. (Most of you know how much this one hurts me to say!)
There is a warning in Revelation that we are not to change, remove, or add to the words of the Bible, but if I could just tweak this one verse, I'd have it say "I can be CONTENT in everything through Christ who gives me strength."
Tomorrow is Friday, and most of us are just naturally in a better mood because the weekend is right around the corner. But even if things don't go exactly like I'd prefer them to, I will try to be CONTENT for one day, no matter what!
'Til next time...