In February 1943 a poster appeared on the walls of Westinghouse Electric to encourage women who'd been hired during the war effort. It was used only in-house and was gone after two weeks. The image of a muscular woman wearing a blue work shirt and red bandanna with the speech bubble "We Can Do It!" above her head wasn't rediscovered until the early 1960s when the women's movement claimed the image as their own.
Since then we've seen her everywhere -- on postage stamps, coffee mugs, T-shirts, you name it. In fact, this decades-old poster is still one of the ten most-requested images from the National Archives.
So should we write "Philippians 4:13" across the bottom of the poster and hang it in our homes? Is a can-do attitude worth aiming for? Or might that kind of thinking steer us in the wrong direction? Let's take a look.
I can do all this... Philippians 4:13
Sounds like the world's shortest motivational speech, and it's often used that way by believers as we jump to our feet and declare loudly and proudly, "I can do all things" (CJB).
Sure seems like a good frame of mind, right? Upbeat. Confident. Goal driven. The Greek word ischuó means "I am strong." Your Bible may say "I am ready" (AMP), "I am able" (HCSB), or "I can endure" (CEB). Can-do people are resourceful, with a positive attitude marked by joy-filled enthusiasm.
Is that a bad thing? Not at all. It just isn't necessarily a God thing. We get so excited about claiming, "I can do everything!" that we risk forgetting the One whose sacrifice makes that possible.
Rather than assuring the new believers at Philippi they could survive on their own, the apostle Paul was communicating to them -- and to us -- just the opposite. The only way to manage life is through Christ. It's the Lord who can do "anything" (CSV) and indeed "all things" (KJV). So how did Paul handle life's ups and downs? He "learned to be content whatever the circumstances." (Phil. 4:11)
Content? Hmm. Even those of us who know God's Word and love Him with all our hearts would probably admit we aren't 100 percent content. Nor do we happily embrace the verse that follows: "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." (Phil. 4:12)
Well fed and living in plenty is today's lifestyle choice.
Hungry and in want? Not if we can help it.
In my early twenties I worked three jobs at once and donated plasma for cash, trying to make ends meet. But I was hardly living in want. I had a roof (albeit leaky) over my head, an old VW parked at the curb, and on some weekends a bag of fresh vegetables from a friend's garden.
Even so, I wasn't content. I wanted more and was determined to get it.
Only a person like Paul, who'd "been there," could say "done that." When Paul declared, "I can do everything" (NLT), he also made it clear where his strength came from.
... through him... Philippians 4:13
This crucial truth is buried in the middle of the verse, like a treasure waiting to be discovered. Some translations get more specific -- "by the power of Christ" (NIrV) and "through the Anointed One" (VOICE) -- but the original Greek and just says "in the one."
Why didn't Paul mentioned the Lord at the start of the verse -- "through Christ I can do everything" -- so we'd be sure to get it right? Perhaps it's because Paul always talked about, wrote about, and preached about Jesus. Paul's letters have no other thing but "the One" (MSG).
... who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13
God's power and might sustained Paul. God's love and mercy kept him going. God's strength is a gift to all of us. We can't earn it or buy it; we can only receive it and acknowledge the One who gave it to us: "Christ gives me the strength to face anything" (CEV).
And His strength is enough. More than sufficient. Far beyond plenty. The Lord doesn't simply encourage us; He "infuses" (AMP) us.
"We Can Do It!" can be more than a war slogan. It's a cry for victory in the midst of our spiritual battles. A proclamation shout to the enemy of our souls: "God is 'the one who makes me who I am'" (MSG).
Think what might happen if today you changed "I can do all things" to "God can do all things."
Watch Liz Curtis Higgs this Thursday on LIFE TODAY. Copyright ©2016 by Liz Curtis Higgs. Excerpted from 31 Verses to Write on Your Heart by permission of WaterBrook, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.