We will post these quotes on our refrigerator, because we do spend a lot of time getting food. We stick them on the bumper of our car, because we want others to consider a truth, and we do spend a lot of time in traffic. We wear them on our shirts, because we go a lot of places. We place them on our desks, because we need empowering reminders while we work.
I think many times we truly want these postings to be a blessing. But I think there are times when we use these quotes as a sort of ‘good luck’ charm. There are some truths from Scripture you would never post on your desk, but you might stick on your car… because the world needs to know that “The Day of the Lord will come like a thief; on that day the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, the elements will burn and be dissolved, and the earth and the works on it will be disclosed.” (2 Peter 3:10) You see, that is a great word for a wicked world sitting in a traffic jam, but it isn’t going to motivate me to make more sales and get the promotion I want… I mean, the promotion God wants me to have.
Now, the ones we post in our office, or on our refrigerator are different. Here is an example of what I call a great “office verse”. “I am able to do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) What a great thought. Paul was writing to the Christians at Philippi and he dropped this powerful pick-me-up in their coffee. This is just what you need to hear today. You want to close on that new house? You can do all things through Christ. You want a promotion at work? You can do all things. You want to lose those extra pounds, but it is difficult and you feel like giving up? You can do all things through Christ. You want to make the football team? You can do all things. This is an empowering truth, and who doesn’t want to be empowered for greatness, right?
Well… hold the phone. While I believe that ‘every good and perfect gift comes from God’ (James 1:17), Paul wasn’t just giving us a ‘rabbit’s foot’ when he penned those words to the church in Philippi. Here’s the context for the quote…
“I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:12-13)
So Paul wasn’t trying to tell the readers that nothing will stand in their way as they try to achieve their dreams. He was saying that nothing in our life is greater than God’s ability to sustain us, and we can rest in that truth no matter our circumstances. God isn’t just the God of the full, but He is also the God of the hungry. He isn’t just the God who can help you obtain great wealth. He is the God who will empower you through poverty. We are to be as content in our lack as we are in our abundance.
But see, no one wants to put this on their desk… “I know how to have a little.” Yet we all know that it is in those moments we find out what our relationship with God is really worth. Even non-believers may say, “Thank God” when they get a long desired promotion. But many Christians panic and get mad at God when they struggle to make their car payment. The words of God are encouraging. They are empowering. But they are not just to be used as a way to step into material success. The Bible is powerful truth for daily living. Sometimes it tells you something that you want to hear. Other times it tells you what you need to hear… even if it isn’t what you want to hear.
So go after that success today knowing that if you achieve it, Christ will empower you to live well in it, but also knowing that if you get fired in the process, Christ is still your strength. If on the way home after cleaning off your desk you get a bad report from the doctor, Christ will strengthen you to go through that well. Today, you can live through success or failure because Christ is your strength. Contentment is not the reward of wealth, it is the reward of a surrendered life.
[Bible quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.]
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.