“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. – Philip. 4:13
In his book of illustrations, “Feathers For Arrows,” Charles Spurgeon quotes an old farmer who was asked if he knew how to read Greek. “I don’t know, replied the optimistic fellow, “I never tried.” We smile, but isn’t that the way we should all look at some new challenge placed before us? Until you’ve tried, you can never say for sure that it was beyond your capabilities. Paul wrote these words in chapter four of his letter to the Philippian believers from a prison cell. And he did so after having instructed them to persevere in the Faith, be a help and encouragement to one another, rejoice in any and all circumstances, practice moderation in all things, dissolve their cares in prayer, monitor their thought lives, and provide for his own needs from time to time (vv. 1-11). It would seem to me, this was the perfect place to insert those ten words: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” What do you think?
Why are some of us more fearful to embark on a new challenge or endeavor than others of us? Some, no doubt, were prepared for failure more than success as children, but since it cannot be undone, to dwell on that instead of where we are today, is to provide ourselves an excuse, but not a remedy. Sometimes there may be a legitimate physical fear that we’re called upon to face. At such times, verses like Deuteronomy 31:6 and Isaiah 41:6 can bolster the faintest of heart. And consider these powerful words of encouragement found in Ezra: “Arise; for this matter belongeth unto thee: we also will be with thee: be of good courage and do it” (10:4).
To my way of thinking, however, Proverbs 29:25 and Job 12:4 come closest to the nub of the problem. “The fear of man bringeth a snare”; “I am as one mocked of his neighbor…the upright man is laughed to scorn.” We’re afraid of being ridiculed for our less than spectacular performance. It goes without saying, this is a sure indication of seeking the praise of men more than the praise of God. And just remember, when it comes to being “laughed to scorn,” it happened to the Best of us (Matt. 9:24). It was Jesus who praised Mary’s initiative by saying, “She hath done what she could.” (Mk. 14:8). But she wouldn’t have earned the praise of God if she hadn’t taken the initiative; if she hadn’t tried.
The “all things” of Philippians 4:13 are accomplished “through Christ.” Paul did not part the Red Sea or raise the dead, but he did saturate Europe and Asia with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and was able to legitimately tell the believers in Philippi, “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do…” (v. 4:9). And when it came time to die, he could say, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7). But he would not have done any of it if he hadn’t tried.
I’m doing things today I would never have dreamed possible ten or fifteen years ago. And I still have aspirations that would probably make you roll your eyes or laugh…maybe even laugh me to scorn. J By God’s grace, I want to make sure I give every one of the “all things” God puts before me a good try. When someone asks me, “Can you do such-and-such?” if I haven’t, I want to say with confidence, “I don’t know; I’ve never tried….yet!”