The other day we said that the world who follows the prince of the air always works to take our attention away from the Lord. But God’s Word tells us “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Col 3:1-2) We clearly are to keep our mind set on the Lord, and submit to the kingdom work He created for us (Eph 2:10).
As Christ followers, we should seek godly wisdom. “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:2-5)
Godly wisdom is contrary to earthly and demonic wisdom (James 3:13-16). “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” (James 3:17-18)
God’s wisdom tells us to learn to be content. “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of contentment in every situation, whether it be a full stomach or hunger, plenty or want; for I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power.” (Phil 4:12-13)
Many people have misused this last verse out of context, and want it to mean that we can do all the things our flesh desires through Christ. This isn’t true because God only fulfills the desires in our hearts that align with His Word according to His will. We can’t pursue ungodly desires (2 Tim 2:22) and expect God to strengthen us to fulfill them. We are to live our lives within the context of, and in obedience to, God’s Word. Yes, God can do anything, but He hasn’t promised us we can ‘fix anything through Christ’. God has never promised that all of our earthly problems would be solved or taken away.
Paul is actually saying that even if he is suffering, or in need, that his joy doesn’t come from solving those problems. He’s saying his joy comes from knowing Christ. Even during bad times, Jesus strengthens us as He counsels us, guides us, and encourages us. In other words, even if we lose our job or can’t pay a bill, our source of joy isn’t from fixing our problems in this world.
Paul wanted us to realize that planet earth hurls all kinds of problems our way, and if our joy is focused in earthly things, we’re going to be in for an emotional roller coaster ride. However, if our joy is found in a relationship with Christ, we can still find joy even if our life hits rock bottom. That’s the true meaning of “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.
When we depend upon the Lord for our joy and strength, while submitting our will to His, we are promised to be strengthened. “He gives power to the tired and worn out, and strength to the weak. Even the youths shall be exhausted, and the young men will all give up. But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Is 40:29-31) Where we look for joy and contentment makes all the difference.