One of the most recited verses by Christians is Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."
As a kid I remember reciting that verse to myself before taking tests, shooting a free throw, and competing in a game of “chubby bunny.” If this verse is true, then there’s nothing I can’t do. Just look up at the sky! It’s a bird… it’s a plane… no, it’s Brian Dainsberg! Cue the John Williams' Superman theme song.
Then I was introduced to a new concept. It can be a boring concept; a concept that doesn’t make much money. That concept? Context. Yep, that’s it: context. Without it you can get any Bible passage to say pretty much whatever you want. With it, well, it may not say what you want it to say, but it says what God wants it to say. That should probably be enough.
So I looked at Philippians 4:13 in its context and discovered something: I’m never going to be faster than a speeding bullet, nor more powerful than a locomotive. End the John Williams' Superman theme song. That verse is not saying what I thought it said.
Instead, in its context, the verse is saying I can learn to be content in any financial circumstance through Christ who gives me strength. The verse is about Jesus strengthening us to be financially and materially content no matter how much we have or don’t have.
Boy, did I miss the boat on that! Yikes!
It all boils down to one simple, uninteresting concept: context. Who knew?
Even though this clip is just three minutes, there's three weeks worth of material to reflect on.
The book of Proverbs has a number of descriptions for a fool: mockers, simple, obstinate, troublemakers, and sluggards. What’s interesting about poetry, especially wisdom literature conveyed through poetry, is that the text paints a picture of its opposite simultaneously to the picture it paints by itself.
So in Proverbs 6 we read, “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise…” The wisdom writer proceeds to talk about ants in order to rebuke a sluggard. But it’s simultaneously describing what a wise person looks like.
The sluggard is a fool, but a wise person is a self-starter (“…it has no commander.”). A sluggard makes excuses for small lapses of effort (“a little…a little…a little…"), but a wise person makes the most of each hour. A sluggard goes about his work haphazardly, but a wise person is committed to disciplined routine (“…stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest”). The result of foolishness is decay. The result of wisdom is flourishing.
Is there any part of your life that is in a state of decay because you’re not getting to work on it?