For while we were yet weak, in due season Christ died for the ungodly. Rom. 5,6



Phil. 4:10-13

   10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

The last verse in our passage is a statement we usually give way for: Can I really say the same as Paul? “I can do anything through Him who strengthens me!” Anything! - Do I really do that?
   And what happens in us then, says in reality something substantial about our spiritual condition. Concerning what our foundation really is - when all of our acquired thinking- and our manner of speaking are peeled off. What we really are focused on and rely on in our Christian life.
   That shows by where we emphasize the tone, when we read such a verse in the Scripture – we put it exactly on I! “I can do anything!” That’s how we read it, and therefore also the following worry: Do I speak the truth when I take this verse into my mouth? Yes, do you?
   Paul had done his deep and thorough experiences by himself, from that day when Jesus met him out there on the road of Damascus, and undressed him his Pharisee cloak, which he with so much strive had managed to dress himself in. You could say that everywhere he tried to grab a hold of it to hide his nakedness; it crumbled up as if it was dust. You who have walked this road, you understand what I’m talking about. - And you probably do constantly the same experiences, when it comes to your own rags.
   Paul was led all the way down to his own stony ground, the sin rock itself, the root of the sin, with all its ramifications. It is like the blood system in our body – wherever you stick the smallest needle in, it hits a vein. It is quite a field to get started with weed eating – for the one who wants to cleanse himself. But put a blind man to weed eat the field, he might think that his soon done, even if he has only cleared a little corner. - He does not see the size of the field either, and he has to ask others how far he has come. And so what if he asks someone who is as blind as he? No, Paul had been blind, but now he could see. As you can see in the passage here – he was a man who had been led through trials. And he had come out of it with a result, a conclusion, a truth was revealed to him, and he lived in that. - Therefore lies the emphasize in Paul’s statement in a completely different place, then on me – and I underline: A completely different place! – Exactly on: “In Him!” I can do anything in Him!
Be true to yourself now – it is not dangerous! – was this how you immediately understood it, when we read this verse?
   You, who like Luther cannot even pray Our Father without sinning – how could you even think that you could manage everything!
   You see that when a human being isn’t of the truth - which means, have come to the true acknowledgement - it cannot understand anything in the Scripture right. It does not fall into place for you, because you look in the wrong direction. You cannot see and interpret a landscape or a painting for example, if you stand with your back against it. You can stand there and exhaust your eyes out as much as you want, you will either see or understand.

   We will follow up on this some more, because some may start to think, and say: Yes, but it really says that Him who strengthens me! Yes, no one can deny that, but how did He do that? - How did He strengthen Paul? If you know that, you also know how He strengthens you.
   Yes, we know how you can become physical strong in this world, and that is also our natural thoughts about this, in all connections: You become a member in a gym and get started with the machines that are available, you start running and exercising, and eat special products etc. – and unfortunately, there is such a resemblance in what is shown and practiced in the Christian connection today too.
   But to go the opposite way to become strong, we would immediately consider as crazy, right? – No one does that! No, you would never come up with a thought like that, as long as you live in your natural self, and are controlled by those thoughts that are born there. Because they involve only about what you shall become in yourself. Paul pointed at God’s solution in his statement: That: In Him! Strength in Him!
   It is you who should be strengthened, that is right, but in Him! And now I want to ask you: - What you hear now, is that a far-off story about something, or has it anything to do with you? We speak about the life in God now, the Christian life, and that should be something that touches you, you who not only count yourself as Christian, but also claims to be one in front of others. How did you become strong?
   If I should personally answer such a question, concerning myself, I would answer: I have definitely not become that! I feel weak as a rush, thinking about what I am facing as a Christian – it sure is a completely impossible life! But I have despite many trials, still achieved forward to this day, with life, which is life in God, intact, because exactly in the acknowledgement of my weakness, I have taken my refuge in Him.
   Then I can say, that I have managed it in Him – and on the background of that I can say, that I can do anything in Him - because He is capable to carry me and everything, through everything. You see where the focus is then?
   How did you become strong? By Him making me weak.

   If you think you can swim to shore by your own strength - yes, then you start swimming - but if you cannot see the shore anywhere, only ocean, then you grab the rescue, what can keep you floating. When my life and my own strength became like dust compared to what I was standing up against, I had to start counting on Jesus life and strength. And this is how it is with us unfortunately - we do not start counting on anything else than our own before we have to! Therefore He has to lead us into so many crises, which really could have been avoided.
   Just think if Peter would have believed Jesus on His word, when He made him known with his own weakness - his own lack of means, as the old people said (NB! Here is a quite oldish word used in the Norwegian text) - then Peter would not have had to cry bitterly over such a gruesome sin against Jesus, as the one he committed.
   Lack of means, isn't that a really good expression? I can just get on the train from here without money, and I will soon know how far I can go without any means. Lack of means, is to lack what is necessary to a subsistence, to lack what is necessary to reach the goal.

   Jesus comes with His blessed word to us, with lack of means: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3). For theirs is! Isn’t that a strange message? Here in this world the poverty is exactly the reason that you cannot have anything - that you are been shut out from the goods - but here that is exactly what gives you the opportunity to become so rich that no man can think himself to: Heaven and beatitude!
   Your lack of means is Gods entrance and possibility to make you rich and strong. “For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, "I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit In order to revive the spirit of the lowly And to revive the heart of the contrite.” (Is. 57:15).
   Yes, He dwells on a high and holy place, but how should I with lack of means reach Him up there? - No, that is exactly the case, and therefore He came to me, as we read about His second house here: “- the contrite and lowly of spirit.” In other words, the poor and the weak.
   Jesus could have said: Blessed are the rich in spirit, if there would exist such people - they could have risen up to Him in the high and holy place. - But it does not. Only some believe it themselves.

   It is blessed for a human being to find rest on this ground, in Him! But God knows, and we know that life here on earth also consists to carry and fight with this old and fallen self in us, all the way home. Therefore, as Paul points at in this passage: Be supportive with each other, use what you rule over to help - do not do anything, for goodness sake do not do anything that can cause the journey to become more troublesome for a brother or a sister, than what it already is. Become aware of what you are called to. God’s word says it very simple to us: “If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20).
   Did you hear that? - It was a question, and you are the one who should answer it.
God is the one who judges - and you are the one who should be indulgent with your fellow wanderers, of two good reasons: Because you see and acknowledge that it is precisely what God does and that you need it so deeply yourself.
   Who has put you to a judge over your brother? You have been called to help him! It might be something we neglect here, right?
   You who have been saved in your weakness and sin, what should lie closer to you than helping your weak brother or sister? And on the other side: What should lie further apart from you than to step on them?
   Look! then the Word of God - the life in God - bears fruit in your life - a new mind.
That is what John reminds us of when he says: “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” (1 John 3:18).


Holy Bible, New American Standard Version
Translator: Benedicte Holtan Smart