11-13 “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
Philippians 4:11-13 (ESV)
What motivates you to compete? For a Christian athlete, it could be the truth of Philippians 4:13 which states, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me,” as motivation for an upcoming practice or game.
However, we should understand this passage not as a rabbit’s foot to bring about success in our athletic endeavors, but rather as an anchor for how we respond to failure and defeat.
To fully understand the message the apostle Paul was trying to relay, we need to take a closer look at the opening to today’s Scripture passage that sets the stage for Philippians 4:13. It’s not always about winning and having success; instead, Paul says, “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.”
So athlete, what does contentment mean for you in both victory and defeat? Contentment could mean winning a championship and refusing to think of yourself higher than you ought. On the other hand, contentment can mean not allowing defeat to crush you under a pile of inadequacy.
Our response to every situation can be traced back to whom we choose to rely on.
When we choose to rely on ourselves, victory and defeat becomes entirely personal and detrimental. This is where feelings of pride and inadequacy live. We begin to care too much about what the world thinks of us and not enough about what God thinks of us.
It’s a pattern that has negative connotations for both our performance on the field and our overall spiritual lives.
When we choose to rely on God, the outcomes of our athletic pursuits go far beyond the personal. God becomes the center of our lives rather than our athletic performance or any other singular aspect of our lives becoming our center.
Mountaintop and valley experiences don’t produce the same reactions anymore when I begin to understand that God loves me at both my best and my worst. As a result, the world’s opinion of me no longer stings as much as it used to.
Athlete, are you relying on God or yourself? If you choose yourself, you will be pushed by every wave of opinion that the world has to offer about you. You will become a slave to those opinions.
If you choose God, worldly opinions become significantly less important. Your shackles will be broken, and you can experience peace in both the highs and lows of your athletic career and spiritual life.