Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. [Ephesians 6:10 (NKJV)]
You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. [2 Timothy 2:1 (NKJV)]
Printed on the tee-shirt were Paul’s words from Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things.” While the shirt, part of a new line of Christian workout wear, would be a great conversation starter at the gym, the message is somewhat misleading. I could wear that shirt and say those words but, try as I might, I’d still be unable to bench press 450 pounds! That, however, is not why the message is misleading. It’s because the rest and most important part of Paul’s words—“through Christ who strengthens me”—are missing. Paul’s words are not words of self-sufficiency but of God’s all-sufficiency. The apostle was not boasting of himself and his strength but rather of God’s strength and power that enable us to do His work.
There are many things we cannot and probably will never be able to do. When relying on Christ’s power, however, we can do all the things He calls us to do. I suppose, if He truly wanted me to lift 450 pounds, He would empower me to do it. Most likely, though, that’s not the sort of task He has for either me or you. We are called to do God’s good works, to glorify Him and make Christ known. We are called to bear the fruit of His spirit— to show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We are called to be witnesses and bearers of His light in a darkened world and we are called to use our spiritual gifts to serve Him. While we may not be able to win weight lifting contests, we can do those other things (and much more) through Christ who strengthens us. Moreover, while doing those things for God, like Paul, we can be content in whatever circumstance He’s placed us.