10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 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.
If there ever was a verse that has been misused and abused in among Christians it is verse 13. We have taken this verse and used it like a fortune cookie to be applied to any and every difficult challenge in life from students taking a test, to athletes competing in sports, and business people meeting deadlines. Motivational posters have taken this verse and used it to pump people up with the thought that they can accomplish anything they set their minds on because they can do all thing though Christ. The problem with this kind of thinking is that it totally misses the point Paul was making to the Philippians. The Bible is not a selection of passages where we get to cherry pick those we like and use them in anyway we see fit, no the Bible is filled with all kinds of writings that have context and meaning. In this case Paul is writing a letter and that letter must be followed, read, and understood the way Paul had in mind before we start making application. So then, what is Paul speaking about? The verses before make it clear that he is dealing with Christian contentment. What Paul is teaching us has to do with be content in this life in the situations we find ourselves in. Are we being blessed abundantly by God, then be content and do not seek more from him. Are you in lack, your Heavenly Father knows this, be content with what you have and what you need he will supply. This is not easy for us to do because our sinful desires always get in the way of being content. So ponder the words of Paul, see if you are being content in all situations, and make sure you apply verse 13 as it is meant, not how it is being abused.