Amplified: I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency]. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Barclay: I can do all things through him who infuses strength into me.
KJV: I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Lightfoot: I can do and bear all things in Christ who inspires me with strength.
NLT: For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: I am ready for anything through the strength of the one who lives within me. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: I am strong for all things in the One who constantly infuses strength in me. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: For all things I have strength, in Christ's strengthening me;.
I CAN DO ALL THINGS: panta ischuo (1SPAI): (Jn 15:4,5, 6,7; 2Co 3:4,5, 6) (Macarthur on Php 4:13)
Context - Remembering that context (the text before and after a passage) is critical for the most accurate, robust interpretation, keep in mind that this famous verse is closely "hinged" with the preceding two verses (Php 4:11, 12-note) in which Paul explains how he is able to come to the point that he can make the glorious, profound declaration in this passage. Paul knew that God was able to change his circumstances, but that He was much more interested in changing Paul and this is still His desire for His children. In short, he had learned the "secret", he had counted the cost and paid the "cost", and in the crucible of testing wrought by both good times and bad times, he had come to the point of realization that his sufficiency was solely in his Savior. This principle is echoed in his second letter to the church at Corinth, where Paul writes…
Listen and watch Steven Curtis Chapman's "His Strength is Perfect"… I can do all things…
Literally this verse reads…
The idea is…
The Living Bible expands the text this way
The Twentieth Century New Testament
Phillips has a nice paraphrase
Jesus taught the same principle when He instructed His disciples to…
J Vernon McGee recommends some caution when interpreting and applying this verse writing
Dwight Pentecost sums up this verse writing that…
All things - Is this to be taken literally? Is Paul advocating a veritable "holy omnipotence?" The qualifying phrase is all things that are in God's will. The point is that Paul had come to learn the secret that God would never require him to accomplish or carry out some task without also supplying the grace needed to bring the task to completion and/or fruition.
Ray Pritchard adds that…
Jamieson writes that…
Can do - I have strength (for), where Paul passes from the physical meaning ischuo to the metaphorical, spiritual meaning.
ESV Study Bible adds the caveat…
Can do (2480) (ischuo from ischus = might) means to be strong in body or in resources. Ischuo can speak of physical power (Mk 2:17, 5:4, 9:12). It can speak of having the required personal resources to accomplish some objective as here in Php 4:13 or conversely with the negative speaks of that which is good for nothing (Mt 5:13-note). Ischuo is the equivalent of to have efficacy, to avail or to have force.
When Paul said that he could do all things, he meant all things which were God’s will for him to do. He had learned that the Lord’s commands are always the Lord’s enablements. Where the finger of God points, the hand of God provides the way.
Ischuo can mean to be valid or be in force as a covenant (He 9:17-note).
Ischuo - 28x in the NT - Mt 5:13; Mt 8:28; 9:12; 26:40; Mk 2:17; 5:4; 9:18 = (here ischuo refers to power as evidenced by extraordinary deeds); Mk 14:37; Lk 6:48; 8:43; 13:24; 14:6, 29, 30; 16:3; 20:26; Jn. 21:6; Acts 6:10; 15:10; 19:16, 20; 25:7; 27:16; Gal. 5:6; Php 4:13; Heb 9:17; Jas 5:16; Rev 12:8.
Matthew 5:13 (note) You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.
Matthew 8:28 And when He had come to the other side into the country of the Gadarenes, two men who were demon-possessed met Him as they were coming out of the tombs; they were so exceedingly violent that no one could pass by that road.
Matthew 9:12 But when He heard this, He said, "It is not those who are healthy (be strong in body, be robust, be in sound health) who need a physician, but those who are sick.
Matthew 26:40 And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, "So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour?
Mark 2:17 And hearing this, Jesus said to them, "it is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
Mark 5:4 because he had often been bound with shackles and chains, and the chains had been torn apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces, and no one was strong enough to subdue him.
Mark 9:18 and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him to the ground and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth, and stiffens out. And I told Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not do it."
Mark 14:37 And He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, "Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour?
Luke 6:48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation upon the rock; and when a flood rose, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.
Luke 8:43 And a woman who had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and could not be healed by anyone,
Luke 13:24 "Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.
Luke 14:6 And they could make no reply to this.
Luke 14:29 "Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, 30 saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.'
Luke 16:3 "And the steward said to himself, 'What shall I do, since my master is taking the stewardship away from me? I am not strong enough to dig; I am ashamed to beg.
Luke 20:26 And they were unable to catch Him in a saying in the presence of the people; and marveling at His answer, they became silent.
John 21:6 And He said to them, "Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you will find a catch." They cast therefore, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish.
Acts 6:10 And yet they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking.
Acts 15:10 "Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?
Acts 19:16 And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered (to use one's strength against one, to treat him with violence) them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
Acts 19:20 So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing (to have strength to overcome).
Acts 25:7 And after he had arrived, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many and serious charges against him which they could not prove;
Acts 27:16 And running under the shelter of a small island called Clauda, we were scarcely able to get the ship's boat under control.
Galatians 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything (is of any power in), but faith working through love.
Philippians 4:13 - I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Hebrews 9:17 (note) For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives.
James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. (Young's Literal reads "very strong is a working supplication of a righteous man")
Revelation 12:8 (note) and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven.
The NAS renders ischuo as able(5), am strong enough(1), been able(1), can(1), can do(1), could(8), good(1),healthy(2), in force(1), means(1), overpowered(1), prevailing(1), strong enough(2), unable (2).
Ischuo is used 71x in the Septuagint (Lxx) - Ge 31:29; Ex 1:9, 12, 20; Lv 5:7; 27:8; Nu 22:6; Dt. 2:10; 16:10; 28:32; 31:6, 7, 23; Jos. 1:6, 7, 9, 14, 18; 10:25; 14:11; Jdg. 6:2; 7:11; 1 Ki. 2:2; 1 Chr. 16:11; 22:13; 28:7, 10, 20; 29:14; 2 Chr. 2:6; 15:7; 17:13; 19:11; 25:8; 32:7; Esther 4:17; Job 36:9, 31; Ps. 13:4; Pr 7:1; 18:19; Isa. 1:24; 3:1, 2, 25; 5:22; 8:9; 10:21; 22:3; 23:8, 11; 25:8; 28:22; 35:3, 4; 41:7; 46:2; 49:25; 50:2; 59:1; Jer 5:6; 20:11; 48:14; Da 1:4; 4:11, 20, 22; 7:21; 8:8; 10:19; Joel 3:10
Ischuo (and ischus) are somewhat similar to other Greek words (kratos, energeia) but are distinct. Ralph Earle summarizes these differences noting that…
Vincent explains the root word ischus exhibits the idea …
THROUGH (in) HIM ("in Christ") WHO (continually) STRENGTHENS ME: en toi endunamounti (PAPMSD) me:(Take a moment to ponder the following Scriptures to amplify the meaning of this great principle = 2Co 12:9,10; Ep 3:16; 6:10; Col 1:11; Isa 40:29, 30, 31; 41:10; 45:24)
Thou, O Christ, art all I want;
Warren Wiersbe explains that…
Through Him is literally in Him, a key phrase here and in all of Paul's epistles for it speaks of the believer's vital union and identification with Christ, so that even as a branch apart from a vine can bear no fruit, even so a believer apart from abiding in the "Vine" can do nothing of lasting import (Jn 15:5, 8, 16). It is all from Him, through Him and to Him be the glory. Amen. Because Paul had learned the secret (Php 4:11, 12-note) of continually abiding in Christ, Paul justifiably felt that it was impossible for life to confront him with anything that he and the Lord could not handle, no matter how severe or how favorable! (See related studies on In Christ and in Christ Jesus)
Kent Hughes writes that…
The Puritan Thomas Watson wrote…
J C Ryle (Holiness) writes…
"Nothing in my hand I bring,
Jerry Bridges… in his modern day classic "The Practice of Godliness" notes that
F B Meyer wrote…
John MacDuff …
From Cups of Light…
P G Ryken writes…
Our thinking: It’s impossible
“I’m too tired”
“Nobody really loves me”
“I can’t go on”
“I can’t figure things out”
“I can’t do it”
“I’m not able”
“It’s not worth it”
“I can’t forgive myself”
“I can’t manage”
“I’m always worried and frustrated”
“I don’t have enough faith”
“I’m not smart enough”
“I feel all alone”
William Mason (1773) had the following thoughts some of which relate directly and some indirectly to Philippians 4:13…
Spurgeon (All-Sufficiency Magnified) wrote…
A W Pink instructs that if we would walk worthy of the calling to which we have been called, we would…
Eadie writes that the preposition
Nothing between my soul and my Savior,
Consider the following simple study - observe and record the wonderful truths that accrue through Him - this would make an edifying, easy to prepare Sunday School lesson - then take some time to give thanks for these great truths by offering up a sacrifice of praise… through Him.
Jn 1:3 [NIV reads "through Him"], Jn 1:7, John 1:10, Jn 3:17, Jn 14:6, Acts 2:22, 3:16, Acts 7:25, Acts 10:43, Acts 13:38, 39, Ro 5:9 [note], Ro 8:37 [note], Ro 11:36 [note]; 1Co 8:6, Ep 2:18 [note], Php 4:13 [note], Col 1:20 [note], Col 2:15 [note], Col 3:17 [note], Heb 7:25 [note], Heb 13:15 [note], 1Pe 1:21[note], 1John 4:9
Would you like more study on the wonderful topic of through Him? Study also the NT uses of the parallel phrase through Jesus (or similar phrases - "through Whom", "through our Lord", etc) - John 1:17, Acts 10:36, Ro 1:4, 5- note; Ro 1:8-note, Ro 2:16-note, Ro 5:1-note; Ro 5:2-note Ro 5:11-note, Ro 5:21-note, Ro 7:25-note, Ro 16:27-note, 1Cor 15:57, 2Cor 1:5, 3:4, 5:18, Gal 1:1, Eph 1:5-note, Php 1:11-note, 1Th 5:9-note; Titus 3:6-note, He 1:2-note; He 2:10-note, Heb 13:21-note, 1Pe 2:5-note, 1Pe 4:11-note, Jude 1:25)
All things are from Him, through Him and to Him. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.
Strengthens (1743) (endunamoo [word study] from en = in + dunamóo = from dúnamis which means to be able or to have power Click for in depth word study of dunamis) means to enable one to do or experience something. Endunamoo in simple terms means "to put power in" (like a car needs gas for power) and so to make strong, vigorous, to strengthen, or to be strengthened, enabled or empowered inwardly. This word is found only in biblical and ecclesiastical Greek. The idea is to cause one to be able to function or do something. It can refer to physical strengthening as in (He 11:34-note) but more often endunamoo refers to spiritual or moral strengthening as in the case of Abraham who "with respect to the (humanly speaking impossible) promise of God (of the birth of Isaac in his old age by Sarah), he did not waver (was not divided, did not vacillate between two opinions - belief and unbelief - implies mental struggle) in unbelief, but grew strong (endunamoo - was endued with strength or empowered) in faith (Godly faith is not full understanding but full trust), giving glory to God (Ro 4:20-note) Isaac was the result of a biological miracle performed by God in answer to Abraham’s faith. Godly faith glorifies God; the One Who gives faith receives all the credit.
Endunamoo - 7x in the NT - Acts 9:22; Ro 4:20; Ep 6:10; Phil. 4:13; 1Ti 1:12; 2Ti 2:1; 4:17
Eadie says that
Vincent adds strengthens me can be translated
This "infusion of strength" is based upon the believer's living union and identification with Christ, our Life. Galatians 2:20 (see note) brings out the vital nature of this union for Paul declares
Endunamoo is in the present tense indicating that Christ is continually able to infuse or pour in the power we need for the need of the moment. The moment we lose our sense of need of Him to enable us to live a supernatural life, is the moment we are vulnerable to the old flesh "taking over" in one form or another! Do not be deceived! Instead continually "be desperate" for Him and your need to continually abide in Him. If we experience a "power outage" or "power failure", it is not because of a failure in the Source but a failure in us to depend on the Source (cp His steadfast promise in He 13:5, 6-note).
As Eadie notes
Both Kenneth Wuest and William Barclay often translate the verb endunamoo with the English word "infuse", which gives us a great word picture of the Greek verb endunamoo. For example, Webster (Ed: remember to look up Biblical words in an English dictionary - you will many times discover a wonderful illumination/amplification of the passage you are studying) says that to infuse something is to to cause it to be permeated with something else (Ed: in context this would be Christ), the infusion resulting in an alteration which is usually for the better -- this is a good picture of what happens to the believer who submits/yields/surrenders so that he or she is constantly "infused" with Jesus! Ponder another definition of infuse as to introduce one thing into another so as to affect it throughout, with the implication that there is a pouring in of something that gives new life or significance! Let your life be infused with Jesus!
Paul uses endunamoo commanding the Ephesian saints to
Paul used this word repeatedly in his epistles to Timothy, initially writing
Knowing the trials that Timothy would experience, Paul exhorted him
In the last recorded chapter knowing that his death is imminent, Paul affirms the trustworthiness of the Lord's empowerment, writing to Timothy that
From these uses of endunamoo note how from from beginning to end Paul expresses his need of and dependence on the empowerment of His Lord.
Wiersbe adds that…
I also highly recommend reading Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret which can be downloaded free at CCEL.
Spurgeon wrote that…
Warren Wiersbe writes that…
In his book "The Present Tenses of the Blessed Life" F B Meyer has the following notes on Php 4:13…
IT WAS a marvellous statement for a man to make: "I can do all things." At first sight we suppose the speaker had either had but very little experience of the world with its varying conditions; or that he was some favoured child of fortune, who had never known want, because possessing an abundant supply of wealth and power.
But closer consideration removes each supposition; and we find ourselves face to face with a prisoner bound to a Roman soldier, who had run through the whole scale of human experience, now touching its abundant fulness, and anon descending to its most abject want; one who said himself: "I know how to be abased, and I know also how to abound; in everything and in all things have I learned the secret both to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in want." It was, therefore, after a very profound experience of the extremes of human life, and of all the variations between, that the Apostle made that confident assertion: "I can do all things."
It is a temper of mind which we might well covet. To be superior to every need; to bear prosperity without pride, and adversity without a murmur; to feel that there is no earthly circumstance that can disturb the soul from its equilibrium in God; to be able to yoke the most untameable difficulties to the car of spiritual progress; to have such a sense of power as to laugh at impossibility and to sing in adversity; to help the weak, even though we might seem to need every scrap of power for ourselves; to feel amid the changing conditions of life as a strong swimmer does in the midst of the ocean waves, which he beats back in the proud consciousness of power--all this, and much more, is involved in the expression, "I can do all things."
And when we ask for the talisman, which has given a frail man this marvellous power, it is given in the words: "in Him that strengthens Me." The Old Version gave "through Christ;" the New alters it to "in Him." And at once we see the connection with all that line of inner teaching, of which, to the careful student, the Bible is so full. Those words are the keynote of Blessedness, first struck by our Lord, and repeated with unwearying persistence by His immediate followers, to whom they were the secret of an overcoming life. The one main thought of them is this--that the strength which we covet is not given to us in a lump, for us to draw upon as we choose, like electricity stored in boxes for use; it is a life, and it is only to be obtained so long as we are in living union with its source. Apart from Him we can do nothing. Whilst we are abiding in Him, nothing is impossible. The one purpose of our life should therefore be to remain in living and intense union with Christ, guarding against everything that would break it, employing every means of cementing and enlarging it. And just in proportion as we do so, we shall find His strength flowing into us for every possible emergency. We may not always feel its presence; but we shall find it present whenever we begin to draw on it. Or if ever we are more than usually sensible of our weakness, one moment of upward looking will be sufficient to bring it in a tidal wave of fulness into our hearts.
There is no temptation which we cannot master; no privation which we cannot patiently bear; no difficulty with which we cannot cope; no work which we cannot perform; no confession or testimony which we cannot make--if only our souls are living in healthy union with Jesus Christ, for as our day, or hour, is, so shall our strength be: so much so, that we shall be perfectly surprised at ourselves, as we look back on what we have accomplished.
Dwell on that present tense, strengthens. Hour by hour, as the tides of golden sun-heat are quietly absorbed by flowers and giant trees--so will the strength of the living Saviour pass into our receptive natures. He will stand by us; He will dwell in us; He will live through us--strengthening us with strength in our souls.
The dying patriarch told how his favourite child would be made strong, by the mighty God of Jacob putting His Almighty hands over his trembling fingers; as an archer might lay his brawny skilled hands on the delicate grasp of his child, teaching him how to point the arrow, and enabling him to pull back the bow string. Oh what beauty there is in the comparison! Who would not wish to be such a favoured one, feeling ever the gentle touch of the hands of God, empowering us, and working with us! Yet that portion may be thine, dear reader, and mine. To the prayer first offered by Nehemiah, "O God, strengthen my hand," God answers Himself: "I will strengthen thee." "Wait on the Lord, and He shall strengthen thine heart." "They that wait upon the Lord shall change their strength," i.e. they shall exchange one degree of strength for another, in an ever ascending scale.
The strength of Christ is never found in the heart that boasts its own strength. The two can no more co-exist, than light and darkness can co-exist in the same space. And therefore the Apostle used to glory in anything that reminded him of his utter helplessness and weakness. This thought made him even acquiesce willingly to the thorn in his flesh. It was at first his repeated prayer that it might be removed; but when the Lord explained that His strength could only be perfected in weakness, and that the presence of the thorn was a perpetual indication and reminder of the weakness of his flesh, driving him to the Strong for strength, and making him a fit subject for the conspicuous manifestation of God's might at its full then he protested that he would most gladly glory in his weakness, that the strength of Christ might rest upon him; for when he was weak, in his own deep consciousness, then he was strong in the strength of the strong Son of God (2Co 12:9).
It would be a great help to us all if we could look at difficulties and trials in this way. Considering that they have been sent, not to grieve or annoy us, but to make us despair of ourselves, and to force us to make use of that divine storehouse of power, which is so close to us, but of which we make so little use. Difficulties are God's way of leading us to rely on His almighty sufficiency. They are none of them insurmountable; they are the triumphs of His art; they are meant to reveal to us resources of which, had it not been for their compulsion, we might have lived in perpetual ignorance--just as hunger has led to many of the most wonderful inventions.
What glorious lives might be the lot of the readers of these lines, if only they would abjure their own strength be it wisdom, wealth, station, or any other source of creature aid; and if they would learn that the true strength is to sit still at the source of all might and grace, receiving out of His fulness, and mingling the song of the psalm, with the glad affirmation of the Apostle: "I will love Thee, O Lord, my strength;" "I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me!"
Steven Cole has the following sermon on - Philippians 4:10-13
An airline pilot was flying over the Tennessee mountains and pointed out a lake to his copilot. “See that little lake?” he said. “When I was a kid I used to sit in a rowboat down there, fishing. Every time a plane would fly overhead, I’d look up and wish I was flying it. Now I look down and wish I was in a rowboat, fishing.”
Contentment can be an elusive pursuit. We go after what we think will make us happy only to find that it didn’t work; in fact, we were happier before we started the quest. It’s like the story of two teardrops floating down the river of life. One teardrop said to the other, “Who are you?” “I’m a teardrop from a girl who loved a man and lost him. Who are you?” “I’m a teardrop from the girl who got him.”
The lack of contentment that marks our nation is reflected in many ways. We see it in our high rate of consumer debt. We aren’t content to live within our means, so we go into debt to live just a bit better than we can afford, but then we suffer anxiety from the pressure of paying all our bills. Of course, the advertising industry tries to convince us that we can’t possibly be happy unless we have their product, and we often take the bait, only to find that we own one more thing to break down or one more time consuming piece of equipment to add more pressure to an already overloaded schedule.
Our discontent is reflected in our high rate of mobility. People rarely stay at the same address for more than five years. We’re always on the move, looking for a better house, a better job, a better place to live and raise a family, a better place to retire. Some of the moves are demanded by the need for decent jobs. But some of it is fueled by a gnawing discontent that we think will be satisfied when we find the right living situation. But we never quite get there.
Our discontent rears its head in our high divorce rate. We can’t find happiness in our marriages, so we trade our mates in for a different model, only to find that the same problems reoccur.
Our lack of contentment is seen in our clamoring for our rights, all the while claiming that we have been victimized. If we can just get fair treatment, we think we’ll be happy. We are suing one another at an astonishing rate, trying to get more money so we can have more things so that life will be more comfortable. We spend money that we can’t afford on the lottery, hoping to win a big jackpot that will give us what we want in life. But even those who win large settlements in a lawsuit or a lottery jackpot are not much happier in the long run.
In Philippians 4:10, 11, 12, 13, a man who sits in prison because of corrupt officials awaiting possible execution over false charges tells us how to find contentment. The answer lies buried in the midst of a thank-you note. The Philippian church had sent a financial gift to Paul the prisoner. He wants to express his heartfelt thanks, but at the same time he doesn’t want to give the impression that the Lord was not sufficient for his every need. Even though he had been in a very difficult situation (Php 4:14-note, “affliction”), he doesn’t want his donors to think that he had been discontented before the gift arrived; but he does want them to know that their generosity was truly appreciated. So he combines his thanks with this valuable lesson on the secret for contentment. We’ll look first at what contentment is as Paul describes it; and then at how we acquire it.
WHAT IS CONTENTMENT?
The word content (Php 4:11-note) comes from a Greek word that means self-sufficient or independent. The Stoics elevated this word, the ability to be free from all want or needs, as the chief of all virtues. But the Stoic philosophy was marked by detachment from one’s emotions and indifference to the vicissitudes of life. This clearly is not the sense in which Paul meant the word, since in Php 4:10-note he shows that he rejoiced in the Lord greatly when he received the gift, not because of the money, but because it showed the Philippians’ heartfelt love and concern for him. Paul was not detached from people nor from his feelings. He loved people dearly and was not afraid to show it. And, Philippians 4:13 clearly shows that Paul did not mean the word in the pagan sense of self-sufficiency, since he affirms that his sufficiency is in Christ.
Neither does contentment mean complacency. As Christians we can work to better our circumstances as we have opportunity
The Bible extols hard work and the rewards that come from it, as long as we are free from greed. Paul tells slaves not to give undue concern to gaining their freedom, but if they are able to do so, they should (1Co 7:21). If you’re single and feel lonely, there is nothing wrong with seeking a godly mate, as long as you’re not so consumed with the quest that you lack the sound judgment that comes from waiting patiently on the Lord. If you’re in an unpleasant job, there is nothing wrong with going back to school to train for a better job or from making a change to another job, as long as you do so in submission to the will of God.
So what does contentment mean? It is an inner sense of rest or peace that comes from being right with God and knowing that He is in control of al that happens to us. It means having our focus on the kingdom of God and serving Him, not on the love of money and things. If God grants us material comforts, we can thankfully enjoy them, knowing that it all comes from His loving hand. But, also, we seek to use it for His purpose by being generous. If He takes our riches, our joy remains steady, because we are fixed on Him (see 1Ti 6:6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 17, 18, 19). Contentment also means not being battered around by difficult circumstances or people, and not being wrongly seduced by prosperity, because our life is centered on a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. So no matter what happens to us or what others do to us, we have the steady assurance that the Lord is for us and He will not forsake us.
HOW DO WE ACQUIRE CONTENTMENT?
The world goes about the quest for contentment in all the wrong ways, so we must studiously avoid its ways. Paul’s words show …
1. Contentment comes from focusing on the Lord as the Sovereign One to whom I must submit.
Paul mentions that the Philippians had revived their concern for him. The word was used of flowers blossoming again or of trees leafing out in the springtime. He is quick to add that they always had been concerned, but they lacked opportunity. We do not know what had prohibited their sending a gift sooner, whether it was a lack of funds, not having a reliable messenger to take the gift, not knowing about Paul’s circumstances, or some other reason. But whatever the reason, Paul knew that God was in control, God knew his need, and God would supply or not supply as He saw fit. Paul was subject to the Sovereign God in this most practical area of his financial support.
I will develop this more next week, but I believe that Paul had a policy of not making his financial needs known to anyone except the Lord. Here he was in prison, unable to pursue his tent-making trade, and he was in a tight spot (“affliction” in Php 4:14-note literally means “pressure”). He wrote a number of letters during this time to various churches and individuals (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon), and he asks for prayer in those letters. But never once does he mention his financial needs. Rather, he asks for prayer for boldness and faithfulness in his witness. He trusted in and submitted to the sovereignty of God to provide for his needs.
Sometimes God supplied abundantly, and so Paul had learned how to live in prosperity. Most of us would like to learn that lesson! But sometimes God withheld support, and so Paul had to learn to get along with humble means. At those times, he did not grumble or panic, but submitted to the sovereign hand of God, trusting that God knew what was best for him and that He always cared for His children (1Pe 5:6, 7-notes).
But notice, Paul learned to be content in all conditions. It didn’t come naturally to him, and it wasn’t an instantaneous transformation. It is a process, something that we learn from walking with God each day. Key to this process is understanding that everything, major and minor, is under God’s sovereignty. He uses all our circumstances to train us in godliness if we submit to Him and trust Him. Our attitude in trials and our deliberate submission to His sovereignty in the trial is crucial.
George Muller proved the sovereign faithfulness of God in the matter of finances. He lived in 19th century Bristol, England where he founded an orphanage. He and his wife had taken literally Jesus’ command to give away all their possessions (Luke 14:33), so they had no personal resources. Also, he was firmly committed to the principle of not making his financial needs known to anyone, except to God in prayer. He was extremely careful not even to give hints about his own needs or the needs of the orphanage. The children never knew about any financial difficulties, nor did they ever lack good food, clothes, or warmth.
But there were times when Muller’s faith was tried, when the Lord took them down to the wire before supplying the need. On February 8, 1842, they had enough food in all the orphan houses for that day’s meals, but no money to buy the usual stock of bread or milk for the following morning, and two houses needed coal. Muller noted in his journal that if God did not send help before nine the next morning, His name would be dishonored.
The next morning Muller walked to the orphanage early to see how God would meet their need, only to discover that the need had already been met. A Christian businessman had walked about a half mile past the orphanages toward his place of work when the thought occurred to him that Muller’s children might be in need. He decided not to retrace his steps then, but to drop off something that evening. But he couldn’t go any further and felt constrained to go back. He gave a gift that met their need for the next two days (George Muller: Delighted in God! by Roger Steer [Harold Shaw Publishers], pp. 115-116). Muller knew many instances like that where God tried his faith.
If you are walking with God and you find yourself in a desperate situation, you can know that you are not there by chance. The sovereign God has put you there for your training in faith, that you might share His holiness. It may be a small crisis or a major, life-threatening crisis. Submit to and trust the Sovereign God and you will know the contentment that comes from Him.
2. Contentment comes from focusing on the Lord as the Savior whom I must serve.
The reason Paul knew that God would meet his basic needs was that Jesus had promised, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Mt 6:33-note). All these things refers to what you shall eat, what you shall drink, what you shall wear (Mt 6:25-note). Jesus was teaching that if we will put our focus on serving Him and growing in righteousness, God will take care of our basic material needs. In the context He is talking about how to be free from anxiety, or how to be content in our soul. Paul taught the same thing (see 1Ti. 6:6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11). If our focus is on our Savior and on doing what He has called us to do for His kingdom, which includes growing in personal holiness, then we can be content with what He provides.
Please take note that He promises to supply our needs, not our greed. Most of us living in America have far, far more than our needs. We live in relative luxury, even if we live in a house that is too small or only have one car. Sometimes we need to remember that people in other countries squeeze ten family members into a one-room, dirt-floored shanty.
I read a story about a Jewish man in Hungary who went to his rabbi and complained, “Life is unbearable. There are nine of us living in one room. What can I do?” The rabbi answered, “Take your goat into the room with you.” The man was incredulous, but the rabbi insisted, “Do as I say and come back in a week.”
A week later the man returned looking more distraught than before. “We can’t stand it,” he told the rabbi. “The goat is filthy.” The rabbi said, “Go home and let the goat out, and come back in a week.” A week later the man returned, radiant, exclaiming, “Life is beautiful. We enjoy every minute of it now that there’s no goat--only the nine of us.” (Reader’s Digest [12/81].) Perspective helps, doesn’t it!
But the point is, if you live for yourself and your own pleasure, you will not know God’s contentment. But if you follow Paul in living to serve the Savior, you will be content, whether you have little or much. Part of seeking first God’s kingdom means serving Him with your money and possessions, which are not really yours, but His, entrusted to you as manager. We mistakenly think that we will be content when we accumulate enough money in the bank and enough possessions to make us secure. The truth is, you will know contentment when you give generously to the Lord’s work, whether to world missions, to the local church, or to meeting the needs of the poor through Christian ministries.
If your treasure is in this world, your heart will be in this world, which isn’t the most secure environment! If your treasure is in the kingdom of God, your heart will be there, and it is a secure, certain realm.
3. Contentment comes from focusing on the Lord as the Sufficient One Whom I must trust.
Paul says that he had “learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need” (Php 4:12). That secret is stated in verse 13,
The all-sufficient, indwelling Christ was Paul’s source of strength and contentment. Since Christ cannot be taken from the believer, we can lean on Him in every situation, no matter how trying.
Notice that there is a need to learn not only how to get along in times of need, but also how to live with abundance. In times of need, we’re tempted to get our eyes off the Lord and grow worried. That’s when we need a trusting heart. In times of abundance we’re tempted to forget our need for the Lord and trust in our supplies rather than in Him. That’s when we need a thankful heart that daily acknowledges gratitude for His provision. Thanking God for our daily bread, even when we’ve got enough in the bank for many days’ bread, keeps us humbly trusting in Him in times of abundance.
By “all things,” Paul means that he can do everything that God has called him to do in his service for His kingdom. He can obey God, he can live in holiness in thought, word, and deed. He can ask for the provisions needed to carry out the work and expect God to answer. If God has called you to get up in public and speak, He will give you the power to do it. If He has called you to serve behind the scenes, He will equip you with the endurance you need (1Pe. 4:11-note). If He has called you to give large amounts to further His work, He will provide you with those funds. As Paul says (2Cor. 9:8), “God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.”
Notice the balance between God’s part and our part. Some Christians put too much emphasis on “I can do all things,” on the human responsibility. You end up burning out, because I cannot do all things in my own strength. Others put too much emphasis on “through Him who strengthens me.” These folks sit around passively not doing anything, because they don’t want to be accused of acting in the flesh. The correct biblical balance is that I do it, but I do it by constant dependence on the power of Christ who indwells me. As Paul expressed it (1Co 15:10),
In Philippians 4:13, the verb is present tense, meaning, God’s continual, day-by-day infusing me with strength as I serve Him.
The Greek preposition is “in,” not “through.” It points to that vital, personal union with Christ that we have seen repeatedly throughout Philippians. Paul is saying that because of his living relationship of union with the living, all-sufficient Christ, he can do whatever the Lord calls him to do for His kingdom.
This verse is one of many which affirm the sufficiency of Christ for the believer’s every need. But this doctrine is under attack by the “Christian” psychology movement, which claims that Christ is sufficient for your “spiritual” needs (whatever that means!), but not for your emotional needs. But look at the list of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22, 23-see notes Gal 5:22; 23), look at the qualities of the godly person as described throughout the New Testament, and you’ll find an emotionally stable person. You are not equipped for every good deed (2Ti 3:16, 17-notes) if you’re an emotional wreck. The living Christ and His Word are powerful to strengthen you to serve Him, which includes emotional well-being. But the church today is selling out the joy of trusting in the all-sufficient Christ for a mess of worldly pottage that does not satisfy. Whatever your needs, learn to trust daily in the sufficient Savior and you will know His contentment in your soul.
Legend has it that a wealthy merchant during Paul’s day had heard about the apostle and had become so fascinated that he determined to visit him. So when passing through Rome, he got in touch with Timothy and arranged an interview with Paul the prisoner. Stepping inside his cell, the merchant was surprised to find the apostle looking rather old and physically frail, but he felt at once the strength, the serenity, and the magnetism of this man who relied on Christ as his all in all. They talked for some time, and finally the merchant left. Outside the cell, he asked Timothy, “What’s the secret of this man’s power? I’ve never seen anything like it before.” “Did you not guess?” replied Timothy. “Paul is in love.” The merchant looked puzzled. “In love?” he asked. “Yes,” said Timothy, “Paul is in love with Jesus Christ.” The merchant looked even more bewildered. “Is that all?” he asked. Timothy smiled and replied, “That is everything.” (Adapted from Leonard Griffith, This is Living [Abingdon], p. 149.)
That’s the secret of contentment--to be captivated by Christ--as the Sovereign to whom I submit; as the Savior whom I serve; as the Sufficient One whom I trust in every situation.
Where’s the balance between being content and yet trying to better your situation or solve certain problems?
Someone says, “If God is sovereign over the tragedy that happened to me, then He is not good.” What would you reply?
What does it mean practically to seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness? Must we all become full-time missionaries?
Someone says, “We trust God and yet use modern medicine; why can’t we trust God and use modern psychology?” Your answer? (Copyright 1995, Steven J. Cole, All Rights Reserved. Philippians 4:10-13 The Secret for Contentment) (Steven Cole's sermons by Scripture - Highly Recommended - They read essentially like a verse by verse commentary!)
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Missionary Dan Crawford had a difficult task—following in the steps of David Livingstone, the missionary who gave his life in ministering the Word of God in Africa. Crawford didn’t have the imposing personality of his famous predecessor, so at first he had trouble winning the loyalty of the tribal people. Even the people in his church back home weren’t sure he could carry on the work. With God’s help, however, he did a magnificent job. When he died, a well-worn copy of the New Testament was found in his pocket. A poem, evidently his own, handwritten on the inside cover, revealed the secret of his success:
Coward and wayward and weak,
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LIGHTEN THE LOAD - I once read about a distraught Christian woman who was extremely upset because her children had become unruly. She telephoned her husband at work one day and tearfully described the visit of a friend who had pinned this verse above the kitchen sink: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). The friend had meant well. She was trying to be helpful, but her action just made the mom feel even more like a failure.
PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICE
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CHOOSE YOUR COLOR - A college student decided one summer that he would earn money for his tuition by selling Bibles door-to-door. He began at the home of the school president. The president's wife came to the door and explained politely that her family didn't need any more books. As the student walked away, she saw him limping. "Oh, I'm sorry," she exclaimed. "I didn't know you were disabled."
He gives me joy in place of sorrow;
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You Can Do It! - A young boy was at the barbershop for a haircut. The room was filled with cigar smoke. The lad pinched his nose and exclaimed, "Who's been smoking in here!" The barber sheepishly confessed, "I have." The boy responded, "Don't you know it's not good for you?" "I know," the barber replied. "I've tried to quit a thousand times but I just can't." The boy commented, "I understand. I've tried to stop sucking my thumb, but I can't quit either!"
I have tried and I have struggled
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PHILIPPIANS 4:13 - Jerry Bridges defines contentment as believing that God is good to me right now (The Practice of Godliness). After I spoke on this topic at a church, I heard these comments:
Another woman rose and said,
Then a man stood to say,
One very strong temptation is to make people around us miserable because we don't think God's goodness for us is good enough. Whenever we give in to this temptation, we can repent by practicing the godliness of contentment. To do this we can begin passing on to others the goodness God has given us rather than burdening them with complaints about what He hasn't given us.—D C Egner (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
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Strength For Today - Most people own a calendar or an appointment book in which they record details of future commitments. A Christian friend of mine uses one in the opposite way. He doesn't record key activities until after they've taken place.
Here's his approach: Each morning he prays, "Lord, I go forth in Your strength alone. Please use me as You wish." Then, whenever he accomplishes something unusual or difficult, he records it in his diary in the evening.
For example, he may write, "Today I was enabled to share my testimony with a friend." "Today God enabled me to overcome my fear through faith." "Today I was enabled to help and encourage a troubled person."
My friend uses the word enabled because he knows he couldn't do these things without God's help. By recording each "enabling," he is giving God all the glory. Relying constantly on God's strength, he can testify with the apostle Paul, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).
As you enter each new day, ask God to strengthen and use you. You can be sure that as you look back on your day, you'll praise and glorify the Lord as you realize what He has enabled you to do.—Joanie Yoder (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
Lord, give me strength for this day's task,
Charles Simeon's Sermon - EXTENT AND SOURCE OF THE CHRISTIAN’S POWER
Phil. 4:13. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
THERE are in the sacred writings many various, and apparently opposite, representations of the Christian’s state: he is mournful, yet happy; sinful, yet holy; weak, yet possessed of a derived omnipotence. These paradoxes are incomprehensible to the world at large: but the solution of them is easy to those who know what man is by nature, and what he is by grace, and what are the effects which flow from the contrary and contending principles of flesh and spirit. Nothing can be more incredible, at first sight, than the assertion in the former part of our text: but, when qualified and explained by the latter part, it is both credible and certain: yea, it presents to our minds a most encouraging and consoling truth.
I. The extent of a Christian’s power—
Using only such a latitude of expression as is common in the Holy Scriptures, we may say concerning every true Christian, that he can,
1. Endure all trials—
In following his Divine Master, he may be called to suffer reproaches, privations, torments, and death itself. But “none of these can move him.” When his heart is right with God, he can “rejoice that he is counted worthy to suffer shame for his Redeemer’s sake:” he can “suffer the loss of all things, and yet count them but dung;” under extreme torture, he can refuse to accept deliverance, in the prospect of “a better resurrection:” he can say, “I am ready to die for the Lord’s sake;” and when presented at the stake as a sacrifice to be slain, he can look upon his sufferings as a matter of self-congratulation and exceeding joy.
2. Mortify all lusts—
Great are his inward corruptions; and many are the temptations to call them forth: but he is enabled to mortify and subdue them. “The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life,” are very fascinating: but “the grace of God, which has brought salvation to his soul, has taught him to deny them all, and to live righteously, soberly, and godly in this present world.” “By the great and precious promises of the Gospel, he is made a partaker of the Divine nature,” and is stirred up to “cleanse himself from all filthiness, both of flesh and spirit, and to perfect holiness in the fear of God.”
3. Fulfil all duties—
Every different situation brings with it some correspondent duties: prosperity demands humility and vigilance; adversity calls for patience and contentment. Now the Christian is “like a tree that is planted by the rivers of water, and bringeth forth its fruits in its season.” It is to this change of circumstances that the Apostle more immediately refers in the text: “I have learned,” says he, “in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere, and in all things, I am instructed, both to be full, and to be hungry; both to abound, and to suffer need. I can do all things.” The Christian knows that all his duties are summed up in love to God, and love to man: he is assured, that no changes in his condition can for one moment relax his obligation to approve himself to God in the execution of these duties: and he endeavours to avail himself of every wind that blows, to get forward in his Christian course.
But in reference to all the foregoing points, we must acknowledge, that all Christians are not equally advanced; nor does any Christian so walk as not to shew, at some time or other, that “he has not yet attained, nor is altogether perfect.” We must be understood therefore as having declared, rather what the Christian “can do,” than what he actually does in all instances. “In many things he still offends;” but he aspires after the full attainment of this proper character: in the performance of his duties, he aims at universality in the matter, uniformity in the manner, and perfection in the measure of them.
The Christian’s power being so extraordinary, we may well inquire after,
II. The source from whence he derives it—
The Christian in himself is altogether destitute of strength—
If we consult the Scripture representations of him, we find that he is “without strength,” and even “dead in trespasses and sins.” Nor, after he is regenerate, has he any more power that he can call his own; for “in him, that is, in his flesh, dwelleth no good thing.”
If our Lord’s assertion may be credited, “without him we can do nothing;” we are like branches severed from the vine.
If the experience of the most eminent Apostle will serve as a criterion, he confessed, that he “had not of himself a sufficiency even to think a good thought; his sufficiency was entirely of God.”
His power even to do the smallest good is derived from Christ—
“It has pleased the Father, that in Christ should all fulness dwell,” and that “out of his fulness all his people should receive.” It is he who “strengthens us with all might by his Spirit in the inner man:” it is he who “gives us both to will and to do.” If we are “strong in any degree, it is in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” Whatever we do, we must give him the glory of it, saying, “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me:” “I have laboured; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me:” “by the grace of God I am what I am.”
Nor is it by strength once communicated, that we are strong; but from continual communications of grace from the same overflowing fountain. It is not through Christ who hath strengthened, but who doth strengthen us, that we can do all things. We need fresh life from him, in order to the production of good fruit; exactly as we need fresh light from the sun, in order to a prosecution of the common offices of life. One moment’s intermission of either, would instantly produce a suspension of all effective industry.
From that source he receives all that he can stand in need of—
Christ is not so prodigal of his favours, as to confer them in needless profusion: he rather apportions our strength to the occasions that arise to call it forth. He bids us to renew our applications to him; and, in answer to them, imparts “grace sufficient for us.” There are no limits to his communications: however “wide we open our mouth, he will fill it.” He is “able to make all grace abound towards us, that we, having always all-sufficiency in all things, may abound unto every good work:” he is ready to “do for us exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think.” “If only we believe, all things shall be possible unto us:” we shall be “able to quench all the fiery darts of the devil,” and “be more than conquerors over all the enemies of our souls.”
The uses to which we may apply this subject, are,
1. The conviction of the ignorant—
Many, when urged to devote themselves to God, reply, that we require more of them than they can do; and that it is impossible for them to live according to the Scriptures. But what ground can there be for such an objection? Is not Christ ever ready to assist us? Is not Omnipotence pledged for our support? Away with your excuses then, which have their foundation in ignorance, and their strength in sloth. Call upon your Saviour; and he will enable you to “stretch forth your withered hand:” at his command, the dead shall arise out of their graves; and the bond-slaves of sin and Satan shall be “brought into the liberty of the children of God.”
2. The encouragement of the weak—
A life of godliness cannot be maintained without constant watchfulness and strenuous exertion. And there are times when “even the youths faint and are weary, and the young men utterly fall,” But “if we wait upon our God we shall certainly renew our strength, and mount up with wings as eagles.” If we look “to Him on whom our help is laid,” the experience of David shall be ours: “In the day when I cried, thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.” Let not any difficulties then discourage us. “Let the weak say, I am strong;” and the stripling go forth with confidence against Goliath. Let us “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus,” and “his strength shall assuredly be perfected in our weakness.”
C H Spurgeon's sermon on Philippians 4:13…
DELIVERED ON SABBATH MORNING, NOVEMBER 18TH, 1860,
BY THE REV. C. H. SPURGEON,
AT EXETER HALL, STRAND.
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” — Philippians 4:13.
The former part of the sentence would be a piece of impudent daring without the latter part to interpret it. There have been some men who, puffed up with vanity, have in their hearts said, “I can do all things.” Their destruction has been sure, and near at hand. Nebuchadnezzar walks through the midst of the great city; he sees its stupendous tower threading the clouds; he marks the majestic and colossal size of every erection, and he says in his heart, “Behold this great Babylon which I have builded. ’I can do all things.’” A few hours and he can do nothing except that in which the beast excels him; he eats grass like the oxen, until his hair has grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws. See, too, the Persian potentate; he leads a million of men against Grecia, he wields a power which he believes to be omnipotent, he lashes the sea, casts chains upon the wave, and bids it be his slave. Ah, foolish pantomime. — “I can do all things!” His hosts melt away, the bravery of Grecia is too much for him; he returns to his country in dishonor. Or, if you will take a modern instance of a man who was born to rule and govern, and found his way upwards from the lowest ranks to the highest point of empire, call to mind Napoleon. He stands like a rock in the midst of angry billows; the nations dash against him and break themselves; he himself puts out the sun of Austria, and bids the star of Prussia set; he dares to proclaim war against all the nations of the earth, and believes that he himself shall be a very Briarius with a hundred hands attacking at once a hundred antagonists. “I can do all things,” he might have written upon his banners. It was the very note which his eagles screamed amid the battle. He marches to Russia, he defies the elements; he marches across the snow and sees the palace of an ancient monarchy in flames. No doubt as he looks at the blazing Kremlin, he thinks, “I can do all things.” But thou shalt come back to thy country alone, thou shalt strew the frozen plains with men; thou shalt be utterly wasted and destroyed. Inasmuch as thou hast said, “I propose and dispose too,” let Jehovah disposes of thee, and puts thee from thy seat, seeing thou hast arrogated to thyself omnipotence among men. And what shall we say to our apostle, little in stature, stammering in speech, his personal presence weak, and his speech contemptible, when he comes forward and boasts, “I can do all things?” O impudent presumption! What canst thou do, Paul? The leader of a hated sect, all of them doomed by an imperial edict to death! Thou, thou, who darest to teach the absurd dogma that a crucified man is able to save souls, that he is actually king in heaven and virtually king in earth! Thou sayest, “I can do all things.” What I has Gamaliel taught thee such an art of eloquence, that thou canst baffle all that oppose thee! What I have thy sufferings given thee so stern a courage that thou art not to be turned away from the opinions which thou hast so tenaciously held? Is it in thyself thou reliest? No, “I can do all things,” saith he, “through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Looking boldly around him he turns the eye of his faith humbly towards his God and Savior, Jesus Christ, and dares to say, not impiously, nor arrogantly, yet with devout reverence and dauntless courage, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
My brethren, when Paul said these words, he meant them. Indeed, he had to a great measure already proved the strength, of which he now asserts the promise. Have you never thought how varied were the trials, and how innumerable the achievements of the apostle Paul? Called by grace in a sudden and miraculous manner, immediately — not consulting with flesh and blood — he essays to preach the gospel he has newly received. Anon, he retires a little while, that he may more fully understand the Word of God; when from the desert of Arabia, where he has girded his loins and strengthened himself by meditation and personal mortification, he comes out, not taking counsel with the Apostles, nor asking their guidance or their approbation, but at once, with singular courage, proclaiming the name of Jesus, and protesting that he himself also is an apostle of Christ. You will remember that after this, he undertook many difficult things; he withstood Peter to the face — no easy task with a man so bold and so excellent as Peter was, but Peter might be a time-server: Paul never. Paul rebukes Peter even to the face. And then mark his own achievements, as he describes them himself, “In labors more abundant, in stripes above measure;” “in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in matchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.” Ah! bravely spoken, beloved Paul. Thine was no empty boast. Thou hast indeed, in thy life, preached a sermon upon the text, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
And now, my dear friends, looking up to Christ which strengtheneth me, I shall endeavor to speak of my text under three heads. First, the measure of it; secondly, the manner of it; and thirdly, the message of it.
I. As for The Measure Of It. It is exceeding broad for it says, “I can do all things.” We cannot, of course, mention “all things,” this morning; for the subject is illimitable in its extent. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
But let me notice that Paul here meant that he could endure all trials. It matters not what suffering his persecutors might put upon him, he felt that he was quite able through divine grace to bear it, and no doubt though Paul had seen the inside of almost every Roman prison, yet he had never been known to quake in any one of them; though he understood well the devices which Nero had invented to put torment upon Christians; though he had heard doubtless in his cell of those who were smeared with pitch and set on fire in Nero’s gardens to light his festivities, though he had heard of Nero’s racks and chains and hot pincers, yet he felt persuaded that rack and pincers, and boiling pitch, would not be strong enough to break his faith. “I can endure all things,” he says “for Christ’s sake.” He daily expected that he might be led out to die, and the daily expectation of death is more bitter than death itself, for what is death? It is but a pang, and it is over. But the daily expectation of it is fearful. If a man fears death he feels a thousand deaths in fearing one. But Paul could say, “I die daily,” and yet he was still stedfast and immovable in the hourly expectation of a painful departure. He was ready to be offered up, and made a sacrifice for his Master’s cause. Every child of God by faith may say, “I can suffer all things.” What though to-day we be afraid of a little pain? Though perhaps the slightest shooting pang alarms us, yet I do not doubt, if days of martyrdom should return, the martyr-spirit would return with martyrs’ trials; and if once more Smithfield’s fires needed victims, there would be victims found innumerable — holocausts of martyrs would be offered up before the shrine of truth. Let us be of good courage under any temptation or suffering we may be called to bear for Christ’s rake, for we can suffer it all through Christ who strengtheneth us.
Then Paul meant also that he could perform all duties. Was he called to preach? He was sufficient for it, through the strength of Christ; was he called to rule and govern in the churches — to be, as it were, a travelling over-looker and bishop of the flock? He felt that he was well qualified for any duty which might be laid upon him, because of the strength which Christ would surely give. And you, too, my dear brother, if you are called this day to some duty which is new to you, be not behind the apostle, but say, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” I have seen the good man disappointed in his best hopes, because he hath not won the battle in the first charge, laying down his arms and saying, “I feel that I can do no good in this world, I have tried, but defeat awaits me; perhaps it were better that I should be still and do no more.” I have seen the same man too for a while lie down and faint, because, said he, “I have sown much, but I have reaped little; I have strewed the seed by handfuls, but I have gathered only here and there an ear of precious grain.” O be not a craven: play the man. Christ puts his hand upon thy loins to day, and he saith, “Up and be doing;” and do thou reply, “Yea, Lord, I will be doing, for I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” I am persuaded there is no work to which a Christian can be called for which he will not be found well qualified. If his master should appoint him to a throne, he would rule well, or should he bid him play the menial part he would make the best of servants: in all places and in all duties the Christian is always strong enough, if the Lord his God be with him. Without Christ he can do nothing, but with Christ he can do all things.
This is also true of the Christian’s inward struggles with his corruptions. Paul I know once said, “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death.” But Paul did not stay there; his music was not all in a minor key; right quickly he mounts the higher chords, and sings, “But thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” I may be addressing some Christians who have naturally a very violent temper, and you say you cannot curb it. “You can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth us.” I may be speaking to another who has felt a peculiar weakness of disposition, a proneness to be timid, and yielding. My brother, you shall not disown your Lord, for through Christ that strengtheneth thee, the dove can play the eagle, and thou who art timid as a lamb can be mighty and courageous as a lion. There is no weakness or evil propensity which the Christian cannot overcome. Do not come to me end say, “I have striven to overcome my natural slothfulness, but I have not been able to do it.” I do avow, brother, that if Christ hath strengthened you, you can do it. I don’t believe there exists anywhere under heaven a more lazy man than myself naturally; I would scarce stir if I had my will, but if there be a man under heaven who works more than I do, I wish him well through his labors. I have to struggle with my sloth, but through Christ who strengtheneth me, I overcome it. Do not say thou hast a physical incapacity for strong effort; my brother, thou hast not; thou canst do all things through Christ who strengtheneth thee. A brave heart can master even a sluggish liver. Often do I find brethren who say, “I hope I am not too timid or too rash in my temper, or that I am not idle, but I find myself inconstant, I cannot persevere in anything.” My dear brother, thou canst. You can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth you. Do not sit down and excuse yourself by saying, “Another man can do this, but I cannot; the fact is, I was made with this fault, it was in the mould originally, and it cannot be got rid of, I must make the best I can of it “ You can get rid of it, brother, there is not a Hittite or a Jebusite in all Canaan that you cannot drive out. You can do nothing of yourself, but Christ being with you, you can make their high walls fall flat even as the walls of Jericho. You can go upon the tottering walls and slay the sons of Anak, and although they be strong men, who like the giants had six toes on each foot and six fingers on each hand you shall be more than a match for them all. There is no corruption, no evil propensity, no failing that you cannot overcome, through Christ which strengtheneth you. And there is no temptation to sin from without which you cannot also overcome through Christ which strengtheneth you. Sitting one day this week with a poor aged woman who was sick, she remarked that oftentimes she was tempted by Satan; and sometimes she said, “I am a little afraid, but I do not let other people know, lest they should think that Christ’s disciples are not a match for Satan. Why, sir,” said she, “he is a chained enemy, is he not? He cannot come one link nearer to me than Christ lets him; or when he roars never so loudly I am not afraid with any great fear of him, for I know it is only roaring — he cannot devour the people of God.” Now, whenever Satan comes to you with a temptation, or when your companions, or your business, or your circumstances suggest a sin you are not timidly to say, “I must yield to this; I am not strong enough to stand against this temptation.” You are not in yourself, understand that; I do not deny your own personal weakness; but through Christ, that strengtheneth you, you are strong enough for all the temptations that may possibly come upon you. You may play the Joseph against lust; you need not play the David; you may stand steadfast against sin — you need not to be overtaken like Noah — -you need not be thrown down to your shame, like Lot. You may be kept by God, and you shall be. Only lay hold on that Divine strength, and if the world, the flesh, and the devil, should beleaguer and besiege you day after day, you shall stand not only a siege as long as the siege of old Troy, but seventy years of siege shall you be able to stand, and at last to drive your enemies away in confusion, and make yourselves rich upon their spoils. “I can do all things through Christ.
Though I despair of explaining the measure of my text, so as to classify even the tenth part of all let me make one further attempt. I have no doubt the apostle specially meant that he found himself able to serve God in every state. “I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” Some Christians are called to sudden changes, and I have marked many of them who have been ruined by their changes. I have seen the poor man exceedingly spiritual-minded; I have seen him full of faith with regard to Divine Providence, and living a happy life upon the bounty of his God, though he had but little. I have seen that man acquire wealth, and I have marked that he was more penurious; that he was, in fact, more straitened than he was before; he had less trust in God, less liberality of soul. While he was a poor man he was a prince in a peasant’s garb; when he became rich, he was poor in a bad sense — mean in heart with means in hand. But this need not be. Christ strengthening him, a Christian is ready for all places. If my Master were to call me this day from addressing this assembly to sweep a street-crossing, I know not that I should feel very contented with my lot for awhile; but I do not doubt that I could do it through Christ that strengtheneth me. And you, who may have to follow some very humble occupation, you have had grace enough to follow it, and to be happy in it, and to honor Christ in it. I tell you, if you were called to be a king, you might seek the strength of Christ, and say in this position too, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” You ought to have no choice as to what you shall be. The day when you gave yourself up to Christ, you gave yourself up wholly to him! to be his soldier, and soldiers must not be choosers; if they are called to lie in the trenches, if they are bidden to advance under a galling fire, they must do it. And so must you, feeling that whether he bid you do one thing or another in all states and in all circles, you can do what God will have you do, for through him you can do all things.
To conclude upon this point, let me remind you that you can, do all things with respect to all worlds. You are here in this world, and can do all things in respect to this world. You can enlighten it; you can play the Jonah in the midst of this modern Nineveh; your own single voice may be the means of creating a spiritual revival. You can do all things for your fellow-men. You may be the means of uplifting the most degraded to the highest point of spiritual life; you can doubtless, by resisting temptation, by casting down high looks, by defying wrath, by enduring sufferings; you can walk through this world as a greater than Alexander, looking upon it all as being yours, for your Lord is the monarch of it. “You can do all things.” Then may you look beyond this world into the world of spirits. You may see the dark gate of death; you may behold that iron gate, and hear it creaking on its awful hinges; but you may say, “I can pass through that; Jesus can meet me; he can strengthen me, and my soul shall stretch her wings in haste, fly fearless through death’s iron gate, nor fear the terror as she passes through. I can go into the world of spirits, Christ being with me, and never fear. And then look beneath you. There is hell, with all its demons, your sworn enemy. They have leagued and banded together for your destruction. Walk through their ranks, and as they bite their iron bonds in agony and despair; say to them as you look in their face, “I can do all things;” and if loosed for a moment Diabolus should meet you in the field, and Apollyon should stride across the way, and say, “I swear by my infernal den that thou shalt come no further, here will I spill your soul,” — up at him! Strike him right and left, with this for thy battle-cry, “I can do all things,” and in a little while he will spread his dragon wings and fly away. Then mount up to heaven. From the lowest deeps of hell ascend to heaven; bow your knee before the eternal throne; you have a message; you have desires to express and wants to be fulfilled, and as you bend your knee, say, “O God, in prayer I can prevail with thee; let me wonder to tell it, I can overcome heaven itself by humble, faithful prayer.” So you see in all worlds — this world of flesh and blood, and the world of spirits, in heaven and earth and hell — everywhere the believer can say, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
II. Thus have I discussed the first part of our subject — the measure; I shall now talk for awhile upon The Manner.
How is it that Christ doth strengthen his people? None of us can explain the mysterious operations of the Holy Spirit; we can only explain one effect by another. I do not pretend to be able to show how Christ communicates strength to his people by the mysterious inflowings of the Spirit’s energy; let me rather show what the Spirit does, and how these acts of the Spirit which he works for Christ tend to strengthen the soul for “all things.”
There is no doubt whatever that Jesus Christ makes his people strong by strengthening their faith. It is remarkable that very many poor timid and doubting Christians during the time of Mary’s persecution were afraid when they were arrested that they should never bear the fire, but a singular circumstance is, that these generally behaved the most bravely, and played the man in the midst of the fire with the most notable constancy. It seems that God gives faith equal to the emergency, and weak faith can suddenly sprout, and swell, and grow, till it comes to be great faith under the pressure of a great trial Oh! there is nothing that braces a man’s nerves like the cold winter’s blast; and so, doubtless, the very effect of persecution through the agency of the Spirit going with it, is to make the feeble strong.
Together with this faith it often happens that the Holy Spirit also gives a singular firmness of mind — I might almost call it a celestial obstinacy of spirit. Let me remind you of some of the sayings of the martyrs, which I have jotted down in my readings. When John Ardley was brought before Bishop Bonner, Bonner taunted him, saying, “You will not be able to bear the fire; that will convert you; the faggots will be sharp preachers to you.” Said Ardley, “I am not afraid to try it, and I tell thee, Bishop, if I had as many lives as I have hairs on my head, I would give them all up sooner than I would give up Christ.” That same wicked wretch held the hand of poor John Tomkins over a candle, finger by finger, saying to him, “I’ll give thee a taste of the fire before thou shalt come there,” and as the finger cracked and spurted forth, Tomkins smiled, and even laughed in his tormentor’s face, being ready to suffer as much in every member as his fingers then endured. Jerome tells the story of a poor Christian woman, who being on the rack, cried out to her tormentors as they straitened the rack and pulled her bones asunder, “Do your worst; for I would sooner die than lie.” It was bravely said. Short, pithy words; but what a glorious utterance! what a comment! what a thrilling argument to prove our text! Verily, Christians can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth them.
And not only does he thus give a sort of sacred tenacity and obstinacy of spirit combined with faith, but often Christians anticipate the joys of heaven, just when their pangs are greatest. Look at old Ignatius. He is brought into the Roman circus, and after facing the taunts of the emperor and the jeers of the multitude, the lions are let loose upon him, and he thrusts his arm into a lion’s mouth, poor aged man as he is, and when the bones were cracking, he said, Now I begin to be a Christian.” Begin to be a Christian: as if he had never come near to his Master till the time when he came to die. And there was Gordus, a, martyr of Christ, who said when they were putting him to death, “I pray you do not spare any torments, for it will be a loss to me hereafter if you do, therefore inflict as many as you can.” What but the singular joy of God poured down from heaven — what but some singular vials of intense bliss could have made these men almost sport with their anguish? It was remarked by early Christians in England, that when persecution broke out in Luther’s days, John and Henry, two Augustine monks, — the first who were put to death for Christ in Germany — died singing. And Mr. Rogers, the first put to death in England for Christ, died singing too — as if the noble army of martyrs marched to battle with music in advance. Why who would charge in battle with groans and cries? Do not they always sound the clarion as they rush to battle, “Sound the trumpet, and heat the drums, now the conquering hero comes,” indeed — comes face to face with death, face to face with pain, and surely they who lead the van in the midst of such heroes should sing as they come to the fires. When good John Bradford, our London martyr, was told by his keeper, that he was to be burned on the morrow, he took off his cap and said, “I heartily thank my God;” and when John Noyes, another martyr, was just about to be burned, he took up a faggot, and kissed it, and said, “Blessed be God that he has thought me worthy of such high honor as this;” and it is said of Rowland Taylor, that when he came to the fire he actually, as I think Fox says in his Monument, “fetched a frisk,” by which he means, he began to dance when he came to the flames, at the prospect of the high honor of suffering for Christ.
But in order to enable his people to do all things, Christ also quickens the mental faculties. It is astonishing what power the Holy Spirit can bestow upon the mind of men. You will have remarked, I do not doubt, in the controversies which the ancient confessors of the faith have had with heretics and persecuting kings and bishops, the singular way in which poor illiterate persons have been able to refute their opponents. Jane Bouchier, our glorious Baptist martyr, the maid of Kent, when she was brought before Cranmer and Ridley, was able to non plus them entirely; of coarse we believe part of her power law in the goodness of the subject, for if there be a possibility of proving infant baptism by any text in the Bible, I am sure I am not aware of the existence of it; Popish tradition might confirm the innovation, but the Bible knows no more of it than the baptism of bells and the consecration of horses. But, however, she answered them all with a singular power — far beyond what could have been expected of a countrywoman. It was a singular instance of God’s providential judgment that Cranmer and Ridley, two bishops of the church who condemned this Baptist to die, said when they signed the death-warrant, that burning was an easy death, and they had themselves to try it in after days, and that maid told them so. She said, “I am as true a servant of Christ as any of you, and if you put your poor sister to death, take care lest God should let loose the wolf of Rome on you, and you have to suffer for God too.” How the faculties were quickened, to make each confessor seize every opportunity to avail himself of every mistake of his opponent, and lay hold of texts of Scripture, which were as swords to cut in pieces those who dared to oppose them, is really a matter for admiration.
Added to this, no doubt, also, much of the power to do all things lies in the fact that the Spirit of God enables the Christian to overcome himself. He can lose all things, because he is already prepared to do it; he can suffer all things, because he does not value his body as the worldling does; he can be brave for Christ, because he has learned to fear God, and therefore has no reason to fear man. A healthy body can endure much more fatigue and can work much more powerfully than a sick body. Now, Christ puts the man into a healthy state, and he is prepared for long injuries, for hard duties, and for stern privations. Put a certain number of men in a shipwreck; the weak and feeble shall die, those who are strong and healthy, who have not by voluptuousness become delicate, shall brave the cold and rigours of the elements, and shall live. So with the quickened yet feeble professor; he shall soon give way under trial; but the mature Christian, the strong temperate man, can endure fatigues, can perform wonders, can achieve prodigies, because his body is well disciplined, and he has not permitted its humours to overcome the powers of the soul.
But observe that our text does not say, “I can do all things through Christ, which has strengthened me;” it is not past, but present strength that we want. Some think that because they were converted fifty years ago they can do without daily supplies of grace. Now the manna that was eaten by the Israelites when they came out of Egypt must be renewed every day, or else they must starve. So it is not your old experiences, but your daily experiences, not your old drinkings at the well of life, but your daily refreshings from the presence of God that can make you strong to do all things.
III. But I come now to the third part of my discourse, which is The Message Of The Text. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
Three distinct forms of the message: first, a message of encouragement to those of you who are doing something for Christ, but who begin to feel painfully your own inability. Cease not from God’s work, because you are unable to perform it of yourself. Let it teach you to cease from yourself, but not from your work. “Cease ye from man whose breath is in his nostrils,” but cease not to serve your God; but the rather in Christ’s strength do it with greater vigor than before. Remember Zerubbabel. A difficulty is in his path, like a great mountain, but he cries, “Who art thou, great mountain? Before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain.” If we did but believe ourselves great things, we should do great things. Our age is the age of littlenesses, because there is always a clamor to put down any gigantic idea. Every one praises the man who has taken up the idea and carried it out successfully; but at the first he has none to stand by him. All the achievements in the world, both political and religious, at any time, have been begun by men who thought themselves called to perform them, and believed it possible that they should be accomplished. A parliament of wiseacres would sit upon any new idea — sit upon it indeed — yes, until they had destroyed it utterly. They would sit as a coroner’s inquest, and if it were not dead they would at least put it to death while they were deliberating thereon. The man who shall ever do anything is the man who says, “This is a right thing; I am called to do it; I will do it. Now, then, stand up all of you — my friends or my foes, whichever you will; it is all the same, I have God to help me, and it must and shall be done.” Such are the men that write their records in the annals of posterity; such the men justly called great, and they are only great because they believed they could be great — believed that the exploits could be done. Applying this to spiritual things, only believe, young man, that God can make something of you, be resolved that you will do something somehow for Christ, and you will do it. But do not go drivelling through this world, saying, “I was born little;” of course you were, but were you meant to be little, and with the little feebleness of a child all your days do little or nothing? Think so, and you will be little as long as you live, and you will die little, and never achieve anything great. Just send up a thought of aspiration, oh thou of little faith. Think of your dignity in Christ — not of the dignity of your manhood, but the dignity of your regenerated manhood, and say, “Can I do all things, and yet am I to shrink first at this, then at that end then at the other?” Be as David, who, when Saul said, “Thou art not able to fight with this Goliath,” replied, “Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them,” and he put his stone into the sling and ran cheerfully and joyously, so Goliath fell; and he returned with the bloody dripping head. You know his brothers said at first, “Because of thy pride and the naughtiness of thy heart, to see the battle art thou come.” All our elder brethren say that to us if we begin anything. They always say it is the naughtiness of our heart and our pride. Well, we don’t answer them; we bring them Goliath’s head, and request them to say whether that is the effect of our pride and the naughtiness of our heart. We wish to know whether it would not be a blessed naughtiness that should have slain this naughty Philistine. So do you my dear brothers and sisters. If you are called to any work, go straight at it, wilting this upon your escutcheon. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me; and I will do what God has called me to do, whether I am blessed or whether I am left alone.”
A second lesson is this — Take heed, however, that you get Christ’s strength. You can do nothing without that. Spiritually in the things of Christ you are not able to accomplish even the meanest thing without him. Go not forth to thy work therefore till thou hast first prayed. That effort which is begun without prayer will end without praise. That battle which commences without holy reliance upon God, shall certainly end in a terrible rout. Many men might be Christian victors, if they had known how to use the all prevailing weapon of prayer; but forgetting this they have gone to the fight and they have been worsted right easily. O be sure Christian that you get Christ’s strength. Vain is eloquence, vain are gifts of genius, vain is ability, vain are wisdom and learning, all these things may be serviceable when consecrated by the power of God, but apart from the strength of Christ they shall all fail you. If you lean upon them they shall all deceive you. You shall be weak and contemptible, however rich or however great you may be in these things, if you lack the all-sufficient strength.
Finally, the last message that I have is this: Paul says, in the name of all Christians “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” I say, not in Paul’s name only, but in the name of my Lord and Master Jesus Christ, How is it that some of you are doing nothing? If you could do nothing you might be excused for not attempting it, but if you put in the slightest pretense to my text you must allow my right to put this question to you. You say, “I can do all things,” in the name of reason I ask why are you doing nothing? Look what multitudes of Christians there are in the world; do you believe if they were all what they profess to be, and all to work for Christ, there would long be the degrading poverty, the ignorance, the heathenism, which is to be found in this city? What cannot one individual accomplish? What could be done therefore by the tens of thousands of our churches? Ah professors! you will have much to answer for with regard to the souls of your fellow men. You are sent by God’s providence to be as lights in this world; but you are rather dark lanterns than lights. How often are you in company, and you never avail yourself of an opportunity of saying a word for Christ? How many times are you thrown in such a position that you have an excellent opportunity for rebuking sin, or for teaching holiness, and how seldom do you accomplish it? An old author named Stuckley, writing upon this subject, said, “There were some professed Christians who were not so good as Baalam’s ass; for Baalam’s ass once rebuked the mad prophet for his sin; but there were some Christians who never rebuked any one all their lives long. They let sin go on under their very eyes, and yet they did not point to it; they saw sinners dropping into hell, and they stretched not out their hands to pluck them as brands from the burning; they walked in the midst of the blind, but they would not lead them; they stood in the midst of the deaf, but they would not hear for them; they were where misery was rife, but their mercy would not work upon the misery; they were sent to be saviours of men, but by their negligence they became men’s destroyers. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” was the language of Cain. Cain hath many children even at this day. Ye are your brother’s keeper. If you have grace in your heart, you are called to do good to others. Take care lest your garments be stained and sprinkled with the blood of your fellow men. Mind, Christians, mind, lest that village in which you have found a quiet retreat from the cares of business, should rise up in judgment against you, to condemn you, because, having means and opportunity, you use the village for rest, but never seek to do any good in it. Take care, masters and mistresses, lest your servant’s souls be required of you at the last great day. “I worked for my master, he paid me my wages, but he had no respect to his greater Master, and never spoke to me, though he heard me swear, and saw me going on in my sins.” Mind, I speak, sirs, to some of you. I would I could thrust a thorn into the seat where you are now sitting, and make you spring for a moment to the dignity of a thought of your responsibilities. Why, sirs, what has God made you for? What has he sent you here for? Did he make stars that should not shine, and suns that should give no light, and moons that should not cheer the darkness? Hath he made rivers that shall not be filled with water, and mountains that shall not stay the clouds? Hath he made even the forests which shall not give a habitation to the birds; or hath he made the prairie which shall not feed the wild flocks? And hath he made thee for nothing? Why, man, the nettle in the corner of the churchyard hath its uses, and the spider on the wall serves her Maker; and thou, a man in the image of God, a blood-bought man a man who is in the path and track to heaven, a man regenerated, twice created, — art thou made for nothing at all but to buy and to sell, to eat and to drink, to wake and to sleep, to laugh and to weep, to live to thyself? Small is that man who holds himself within his ribs; little is that man’s soul who lives within himself; ay, so little that he shall never be fit to be a compeer with the angels, and never fit to stand before Jehovah’s throne.
I am glad to see so large a proportion of men here. As I always have a very great preponderance of men — therefore, I suppose I am warranted in appealing to you, — are there not here those who might be speakers for God, who might be useful in his service? The Missionary Societies need you, young men. Will you deny yourselves for Christ? The ministry needs you — young men who have talents and ability. Christ needs you to preach his Word. Will you not give yourselves to him? Tradesmen! Merchants! Christ needs you, to alter the strain of business and reverse the maxims of the present lay — to cast a healthier tone into our commerce. Will you hold yourselves back? The Sabbath-school needs you, a thousand agencies require you. Oh! if there is a man here to-day that is going home to his house, and when he gets there will say this afternoon — “Thank God I have nothing to do;” and if to-morrow when you come home from your business, you say, “Thank God I have no connection with any church; I have nothing to do with the religious world, I leave that to other people; I never trouble myself about that,” — you need not trouble yourself about going to heaven; you need not trouble yourself about being where Christ is, at least until you can learn that more devoted lesson. “The love of Christ constraineth me; I must do something for him; Lord, show me what thou wouldst have me to do, and I will begin this very day, for I feel that through thee, Christ strengthening me, I can do all things.”
God grant the sinner power to believe on Christ — power to be repent — power to be caved; for Christ strengthening him, even the poor lost sinner, “can do all things,” — things impossible to fallen nature can he do, by the enabling of the Spirit and the power of Christ resting on him.