“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
If there was ever a case to be made for a particular verse of the Bible being the official verse of sports, I think this one would win the prize. It seems like every professional athlete who is willing to publicly claim the name of Jesus makes sure to put this verse on something he wears to play. And snapped up out of its context, it seems to serve the purpose of sports well. But is there any more to it?
As a matter of fact, there is.
The truth is, Paul did not have sports on his mind at all when he wrote this. Fun and games were likely the furthest thing from his mind as he dictated this letter to the Philippian believers while sitting chained to a Roman guard awaiting his eventual execution.
And if you think about it, the popular interpretation of this verse not only doesn’t make a lot of sense, it just flat isn’t true. I can’t do all things even with the strength of Christ flooding my facilities. Not even close. If the knowledge to do something doesn’t exist in my brain or muscle memory, Jesus isn’t going to suddenly upload it to me Matrix-style at a particularly opportune moment. He doesn’t work like that. Professional athletes are able to do what they do because they’ve worked really hard to be able to do it.
This may burst a bubble or two, but it’s only so we can see together the more solid, satisfying, and life altering truth. Paul wasn’t able to physically do anything through the strength Jesus provided him, but he was able to face any trying situation with confidence and even joy.
Think about it: My life is not going to be impacted much by suddenly gaining the ability to throw a football like Patrick Mahomes. At nearly 15 years his senior…*sigh*…I’m not going to embark on a late-blooming NFL career. And I don’t know enough about the game to start a new career of coaching. All the strength from Jesus in the world won’t change that.
But, what will have an impact would be if I suddenly come up against a situation of suffering or hardship and find myself leaning into Him and able to handle something I hadn’t even considered preparing to face. Not only would that make my life better, but it would set a life-improving example for the folks around me as well. That’s better than a mysteriously enabled athletic ability, isn’t it?
Paul had faced all kinds of hardships in his life because of his commitment to Jesus. He was facing them while he wrote this letter. But he could handle whatever life threw at him because of Jesus. Through the strength of Christ, there was nothing life could throw at him that would knock him off course. He could do all things through Christ who gave him strength. So can you if you’ll receive it.