Biggest Out of Context Pet Peeve #2: Philippians 4:13

You’ve heard or seen it a thousands times. Usually in nine hundred and ninety seven of those thousand, it somehow relates to winning the tee ball MVP or Pop Warner championship trophy. Brace yourself.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Football players put the reference (Phil 4:13) on their eye black or arm bands.  Players quote it in the locker room after the game.  Fans paint it on poster board for ESPN cameras to see.

Can I be honest about something here? There are two things God cannot do: he cannot sin and he cannot make James Pruch a professional athlete. It cannot be done. It would not be good for TV ratings, nor would it be beneficial to my self-esteem.  No matter how hard I try and no matter how much I trust God for “strength,” I will never dunk over Lebron or go deep on Cliff Lee or outrun Brian Urlacher. Never. Ever.

During one sermon, Matt Chandler told his congregation why he chose to teach through Philippians for a short series he was asked to record on DVD.  He said, “One reason I chose Philippians was simply to preach that 4:13 has nothing to do with sports.”

Amen, Matt. Amen.

(If you want to find out what Philippians 4:13 is all about, I’ll save you my commentary and let you read it for yourself, in full context, here. It will only take you about 3 minutes. And if you come away thinking Jesus is gonna help your kid be all-whatever next year, read it again.)

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4 comments

  1. Yeah that’s a pet peeve of mine as well.

    I generally get annoyed (and sometimes to a fault), when verses are over popularized and repeated and requoted so much they lose contextual value to the greater whole of scripture they are tied to.

    I guess that’s what we get for being apart of a culture that is consumeristic and results driven, where young people reject an ultimate connection to the greater story (meta-narrative).

  2. Excellent post! I think Neil said it all, “…Just ask those folks if “anything” includes interpreting Bible verses in context.” Why is so hard for people to read the meaning of Scripture rather than read what they want to into it?

  3. The sad thing is that this is one of the easiest passages to read in context. Just go back one verse, or even half of a verse! Paul says he learned a secret — of how to be content in all situations — then he reveals the secret.

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