What does Philippians 4:13 mean?

Continuing the discussion from What's ONE VERSE that's changed your life?:

Hey @jeni, this is also one of my favorite verses!

I have a funny story related to it. I memorized it before running the Memphis Marathon. It turns out that no matter how much I recited that verse, it did not help me reach my goal of running the marathon in 3:10. My legs gave out around mile 24, so I had to run/walk to the finish line for the last two miles. I suppose I was able to “do all things” in terms of completing the marathon, but I was presuming that God was going to help me reach a certain finishing time.

So that led me to reconsider what that verse actually means. Have you had any insight into what “all things” means in this verse?


As I was reading your story, and I came to the part about you had “to run/walk to the finish line” I immediately thought to myself “You still finished the race!” :slight_smile: The fact you ran all except the last 2 miles is huge! I couldn’t even imagine running a half mile, let alone 24! LOL I liked your comment, “I was presuming that God was going to help me reach a certain finishing time.” I think the key word there is finish. You finished the race. :slight_smile: I’ll explain below what I mean by answering your question.

That is a great thought-provoking question. :slight_smile:
I think “all things” means things that are within our own capabilities and part of God’s plan. We definitely have to do the work while always keeping our faith. I definitely think we can do so much more than we realize. “Through God who strengthens me.” Every time I take on a new task, that is within my abilities, I know I will do my best and in return God will be there to help me through it. If I stay focused on Christ, His strength will never leave me.

I mentioned our capabilities because that plays a huge part, I think, in “all things.” I can’t decide tomorrow that I am going to go do a roofing job, and believe that I would be able to do that. It is not within my abilities. I am not physically strong enough to do that type of job. God did not create me to be a roofer! LOL I am so thankful for that! LOL

Anyway, I hope I made sense. :heart:


Yea, I’m grateful I finished the marathon! :muscle:t2:

You said it so well. “All things” isn’t about setting a world record in the marathon or being able to roof a house. Looking back on it, this is such a presumptive way of looking at God. It’s the mindset, ‘God is there to super-charge my goals.’

No! In the context of Philippians 4, being able to do “all things” is about remaining faithful to Jesus in “all things.” It is by being connected to Jesus that we can be faithful to Jesus in every circumstance. It’s the same idea that Jesus taught in John 15:1. “I am the vine; you are the branches.”

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Ha I once used this verse in exactly the same context. I was running a race at school. The girl in the lane next to me was swearing as she went round. So I, being a ‘good’ Christian, kept reciting Philippians 4:13😂, really not understanding what the verse was talking about. Like @jeni’s example of a doing roofing job when untrained, this really wasn’t my strength or ability but I thought that by reciting this verse, it would somehow be like reciting some magic formula to help me achieve my ends!

Funnily enough, Philippians does use language similar to running a race, but a very different one! (Phil 3:13-14). Verse 13 comes on the back of exhorting people to pray for everything (Phil 4:6), rejoice in everything (Phil 4:4), focus on goodness (Phil 4:8), put into practise what they’ve learned (Phil 4:9), and be content in little or much (Phil 4:12). All of THIS can be done through Christ who strengthens me! And actually, these are the things I’ll wrestle with on a daily basis. I haven’t run a field race since I was at school. The real area of trust is that Christ will help me on these daily habits of character and spiritual formation.

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That puts it so well!

It’s the difference between using God for my benefit or living my life for God’s glory. Pulling God off the shelf when I really need him vs living in dependence upon the one who gives me strength in every area of my life, all the time.

May we encourage each other in these ‘daily habits of character and spiritual formation’!

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