You Can’t Do All Things Through Christ (Misinterpretations)

Flying over city Some time ago I was on Facebook reading comments in my news feed, when I ran across a comment a minister made to a young man who posted that he was considering auditioning for the gospel music version of American Idol called ‘Sunday’s Best’. I had previously heard this young man sing at several church events, and while his passion for singing is to be admired, I’m not quite sure he was good enough to audition for ‘Sunday’s Best’.

In response to this young man’s Facebook post expressing his desire to possibly audition, the minister responded by quoting Philippians 4:13 to him. That particular verse reads, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. Upon reading that response I thought about all the times I’ve heard fellow Christians, leaders and lay members alike, totally misinterpret that passage of scripture to motivate and give individuals a boost of self-confidence.

While that scripture is absolutely and positively reassuring, it does not mean that I’m going to be able to make a history-making sprint (on feet I might add) from Florida to California and back in under five hours, nor does it mean that, though I can’t sing a whisper, I’m going to somehow win seven Grammy awards for Best Artist. Not at all! That is not what Paul was saying in this passage of scripture.

There is no denying that with the help of Christ we can do awesome things.  In that fact, there is no dispute. But when Paul spoke these words to the Philippians he was speaking to the point of Christ being his sustainer regardless of his station in life. If you read the verse just prior to the 13 th verse it says: “12 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. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

The confidence Paul was seeking to instill is that, with Christ we can be content in our high places as well as our low places. If the young man had been joyous because he had auditioned and made it on the show, or if he was sad because he didn’t make it, this passage of scripture would have been a more appropriate context, and hopefully comforting for such an occasion.

Misinterpretations like this one is precisely the reason we as Christ-followers need to study and meditate on the Word, and not just rely on popular verses we’ve heard others use in the improper context. Responsibility must be taken to give care and attention to the lessons and wisdoms given to us in the Bible. 2 Timothy 2:15 admonishes us to “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth”.

So the next time we seek to prescribe passages of scripture to someone’s life or situation, or even our own life for that matter, let’s be sure that we utilize it in the context in which God gave it to us in His Holy Word, so that it will be of utmost benefit.

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