Most Misused Verse of All Time…?

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“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” – Phil 4:13 

What a great promise!  But what is it a promise for? This may be the most misused verse of all time. 

God does promise to help us and strengthen us in all situations.  But people have used this verse in some interesting ways. Here’s a sample of how you might hear it applied: 

  • “God will help me make the 35 foot winning jumpshot”
  • “God will help me with this financial disaster”
  • “God will help me fix this lawn mower”
  • “God will help me get this virus off my computer”
  • “God will help me with ______________ problem” 

Although God, at some level, is interested in all these things, does this verse really apply to the final shot of an NCAA tournament game? 

Paul wrote this book while in prison; probably chained to a guard.  Prisons of the first century were nasty places filled with dirt, excrement, and dampness.  What was he in prison for?  He was serving time for the crime of preaching the Gospel.   

He told these friends in Philippi that he’s learned how to deal with abundance and deprivation; how to be hungry and be full.  These extremes were experienced while telling others about Christ. 

This verse is written in the midst of suffering for sharing the Great News that mankind can become right with God through faith in Jesus Christ because of his atoning work and resurrection – the Gospel. 

For us today, this promise means that no matter what happens to us in our witnessing efforts; Christ is there to strengthen us.  It’s his work we’re doing and his message we’re delivering.  He’s interested in seeing it go out!  So much so that he’s given us this promise. 

So whether you’re being abused in China, ridiculed in America, ignored in Europe, or threatened with death in a Middle East country – keep telling others about Him.  The message will always be relevant and continues to change lives. 

The promise? Strength when you suffer for Him.

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One Response

  1. Hi Shawn,

    I know this is an old post, but I was just browsing around your blog here and this one caught my eye. One of my pet peeves is Bible verses that people misunderstand and then overuse (e.g. 2 Chron. 7:14). This is definitely one of them.

    This verse came up in our ABF one time a couple years ago, and I asked if it meant that God would help us do anything at all, like ride a bike or climb a mountain. One guy (whom I do respect and who has a great heart for God) said very seriously, “Yes, that’s what it means! If it doesn’t, then I’ve been using it wrong all my life!” Well, I hate to break it to him, but I guess he’s been using it wrong all his life. Plus, “that’s what I’ve always believed” isn’t usually a good support for any interpretation, by itself. 🙂

    I actually see this slightly different than your view here though. In Phil 4:11, Paul says that he has learned how to be content in whatever state he’s in, whether he is in a state of abundance or a state of poverty. In v. 12 he expands on that thought, then restates it again in v. 13. When Paul says he can do “all things” through Christ, I believe he is saying that he can “do” any situation in life. He can have lots or he can have nothing. He can handle it because Christ is strengthening him. Paul is saying that he is able to be content in all situations because of the strength Christ provides.

    So Paul is not saying that we’ll be able to accomplish anything we want through Christ’s strength (how would that work with Christians on opposing sports teams anyway?). He’s saying that we’ll be able to appropriately handle “all things” that come our way through Christ’s strength. Of course this applies to persecution when spreading the gospel as well, I just think the actual interpretation is on an even broader scale, with suffering for the gospel being a more narrow (but appropriate) application.

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