[Editor's Note: This article is the first in a series on the theme, "I Can Do All Things in Christ."]
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
I once heard a story about a man who decided to bet his last five dollars on a horse race. After he placed his bet, he prayed, “Please, Lord, help me win this one bet.” As the race started, the man’s horse fell into the middle of the pack. “Lord,” he prayed, “please help my horse win.” When the horses approached the final turn, his horse was a distant fourth. “Please, God,” the man prayed desperately, “let me win.” On the home stretch, his horse took the lead and was poised to win everything. “Thanks, God,” the man prayed. “I can take it from here.”
Some of us think we can do everything by ourselves. We are very confident and rarely think that we need to rely on God’s grace. Then, there are those of us who tend to get overwhelmed by life and lose confidence when faced with challenges. We tend to let the task before us defeat us, believing that we can’t do anything. Finally, there are those who, like the man at the racetrack, tend to turn to God on a “pick-and-choose” basis.
Contrast all three of these personality types with St. Paul’s confident but humble statement: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). If he were alive today, Paul would probably tell those of us in the first category to be more humble. Then, he would probably tell those of us in the second category that we really can be overcomers through the power of God. As for the man at the racetrack, he’d probably just tell him to stop gambling.
It Begins with Christ
What does it mean to do all things through Christ? It begins with our relationship with Jesus. It begins as we talk to him and listen for his voice. That’s how we receive his grace and peace. Then it develops in our daily lives as we watch the fruit of that grace move us to a deeper faith and a greater confidence in Christ. Over time, we begin to follow Paul’s example of rejoicing in the Lord and giving thanks to him for all he has done and all he wants to do in us (Philippians 4:4-6).
Of course, prayer is only part of the equation. If we want to find God’s strength to do all things, we also need to work at building a holy disposition by setting our minds on what is true and noble, and lovely, admirable and right (Philippians 4:8-9). That’s when our confidence really grows, because we can see God quietly working in us, raising up our desires and filling our efforts with his grace.
So whether you tend to be confident or unsure of yourself, it’s time to let the Holy Spirit transform you. It’s time to take steps, both in prayer and in your daily life, that will help you become absolutely convinced that you can do anything in Christ.
(Many thanks to The Word Among Us for allowing us to use the article by Joe Difato, Publisher, from the August 2005 issue of their devotional magazine. This article is part of NFCM website sponsorship of the Catholic Man channel. Contact NFCM at P.O. Box 86381, Gaithersburg, MD 20886 or e-mail them at email@example.com.)
Reflection Questions on Page 2
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
1. In what way do you see yourself in the story of the man at the racetrack?
2. Which of the three categories of men described in the article do you relate to most? Why?
3. What do you think it means to “do all things through Christ?”
4. What steps are identified in the article that allows us to grow in our dependence on Christ and to do all things in him?
5. Identify two or three steps you are willing to take to develop further the attribute of dependence on Christ and to do all things in him? If you are in a men’s group, share at your next meeting the fruit of these steps.