“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content. I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound: in everything and in all things have I learned the secret both to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in want. I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:11-13
If there is one statement in Scripture that finds us out, it is this one. It was Paul who said it; but I wonder how many of us could say it, with the same positive affirmation? You will notice, however, that the Apostle is stating it as the result of a life-long schooling. ‘This’, he says, ‘is the issue of my schooling with Christ. I have learned the secret. “I have learned… I know… I can do…”!’
The course of things is learning through experience, and thus coming to knowledge – knowledge which is not theory at all, but which works out in practice: “I can do”. That is the meaning for us of life with Christ. If we, His children, want to know the meaning of our experiences in this very exacting school, for it is an exacting school: we don’t get away with anything; nothing escapes; we are held to it, severely and strictly, though behind all is wisdom and love. The meaning of our experiences in the exacting school which the Christian life is, and is intended to be, it is that we may LEARN, that we may KNOW, that we may DO. God’s end is always a practical end, and the end is DOING. ‘I have learned… I know… I can do!’
And, of course, the way to that end is learning that you CANNOT do, and that you do NOT know. I suppose that that is the truest thing that could be said of anyone in the School of the Spirit. The thing that they are learning is that they cannot do, and they do not know. That is the way. It does seem, on the one hand, a negative process; it does seem to be an undoing experience; but God’s ends are always positive. And an absolute necessity to our arriving at the position, “I can do all things” – a tremendous statement! – which is His will for every one of us. It is a deep, fundamental consciousness and realization of how bankrupt we are of knowledge and of ability apart from Christ. For the all-governing clause or fragment is: ‘in Him that is, in Christ who strengthens me’.
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