"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
Paul wrote that.
How often have I read this, and merely believed that Paul was talking about being able to “put up with” bad circumstances? Let’s say , “every time”.
No longer. As I read through what Paul was talking about just before he said he can do all things, I realized Paul wasn’t talking about suffering alone. He was also writing about having abundance, which now sheds a different light on the meaning of “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
I am coming to understand that Paul meant far more than being able to suffer whatever came his way, even though that kind of character trait is commendable to some degree. I am coming to understand that when he said he could do all things, he literally meant he could do all things. But he couldn’t do them by himself. In other words, he couldn’t live with much on his own power and understanding, nor could he live with little according to his own merit. But if Christ were in him, then, he could do these things.
So what other things might Paul have been able to do through Christ who gives us strength?
Unless the answer to that question is “every single thing we do or will ever do”, we aren’t giving the word “all” proper credit.
So could Paul have started a ministry through Christ? You bet he could. Could Paul have disciplined himself through Christ? Yes. Could Paul have learned more about God than he ever thought possible through Christ? Undeniably.
Well, if he could do those things, could he also strive to know God?
Some are not going to like my answer to that question, at least not on the surface of the answer. I merely ask you to think about what it means to be strengthened by Christ before you judge me as a legalist.
Can we strive to know God?
Absolutely, undeniably, completely, YES!
If we can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens us, then we can truly strive to know God, because it is not our effort that upholds us, but Christ in us who is strengthening us for the task. But some might say, “being is better than doing". To which I answer, when did Jesus ever say that? In fact, my answer might be to say, “see how much Jesus did BECAUSE He knew the Father was in Him?”
Do not strive to earn, strive because you can. Do not stay put because you have to. Stay put because you can. If we believe we can do nothing, nothing is exactly what we will do. But how wonderful a life Paul led, exactly because he believed he could do ALL things through Christ, who strengthens us as well as Paul.
I can be poor, and I can live poor. I can be rich, and I can live rich. I can work hard, and I can do nothing. I can strive, and I can rest. And all these things I do through Christ who strengthens me, and none of these things “earns” more merit with God than the other