What’s the Truth? Part 3

 

God wants His children to have nice things

“Christians should never say ‘I can’t,’ because the Bible teaches that we should say ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ To not step out shows a lack of faith. Look it up; it’s in the Book of Philippians in the Bible.”
 
The conversation began at church. The couple we’ve been following for the last two weeks in this column is approached by someone who sympathetically says, “I’ve noticed your car is really old; God wants His children to prosper and have nice things. You should go pick out a new car.”

 

By this time our couple now has several children, and as usually happens, money is tight. They are growing spiritually and as a family. When they explain that they won’t be able to make the payments they are told that the Bible teaches that they can afford whatever they want. Christians should never say “I can’t” but should stand on the “promises of God.”

Philippians 4:13 really does say “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

This verse is very appealing as a proof text. Anyone can pull this verse out of context and make preposterous claims. However, “All things” does not mean someone can flap their arms and fly or cure cancer with candy. This rich passage doesn’t promise that we can have everything we want. Rather it is a wonderful instruction on how to deal with all those things we find ourselves facing in a broken world. Every Christian will face joys and disappointments. Many times, things go the way we hope and many times they don’t.
 

I can do all things

Look at Philippians 4:13 in context:

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

Let your [b]gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your[c] care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to [d]be abased, and I know how to [e]abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through [f]Christ who strengthens me.

How to have peace and contentment

Paul gives us a side by side comparison of exactly what things he is referring to. He talks about anxiety and peace in verse 6; he talks about difficult times and prosperous times as well as being hungry or full and having abundance or suffering need in verse 12.

Mixed throughout is a prescription for dealing properly with all things. Rejoice, verse 4; Be Gentle (unselfish and patient), verse 5; Pray and Be Thankful, verse 6; focus on and think about these things, verse 8; and do what God has taught us to do, verse 9.

The results are amazing! Verse 5 says whatever you are facing, the Lord is right here with you. Verse 7 states that God’s peace, so complete that it doesn’t even make sense in a broken world, will protect how we feel and how we think in every situation.

It does not mean that if we spend more money than we have, money will magically appear or if we eat a terrible diet, we will be healthy. There is no promise that we will have only easy times. We may have easy times to enjoy and we may have difficult things to face, but whatever things we end up dealing with, we can be content because Jesus provides the strength we need. The “things” that happen in life are where God meets us and gives us peace. Whether it’s pandemic, illness or health, financial problems or riches or any of the many situations that we deal with in life, it is important to have a solid theological foundation. This kind of foundation doesn’t happen instantly or haphazardly or by believing everything we hear but only by careful, prayerful study of God’s word.

 

True story – surprise!

So, how is our couple doing now in 2020?
 
I would say that Janice and I did

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” Psalm 34:8

and are blessed beyond our wildest dreams.