I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Some have stretched verse 13 a little beyond its meaning to imply that some type of superman strength is implied here. Not to diminish the power of Jesus Christ or even to limit what He can do through us, but that is not within the context of what it is saying here in Philippians.
If I may be so bold as to paraphrase Paul, I would do it like this: “I don’t let circumstances impact my faith and trust in the Lord.” Paul was explaining that he trusted God in trials the same way that he trusted Him in triumphs. He offered the same sacrifice of praise (Heb. 13:15) in either poverty or prosperity.
Paul knew how to be abased and how to abound. Abased means “humiliated,” and abound means “superabundance.” Both speak to general life experiences, and both can be met without wavering in trust and praise.
Paul also gives us a key in this magnificent verse, and it is found in the little English word, “can”. The Greek word used here is ischuō (is-khoo’-o), and it means “to exercise force,” “to be of strength,” or “to prevail.” It very clearly implies a choice: we can do all things, or we can choose not to. We can face trials and triumphs, poverty and prosperity, with an attitude of gratitude, or we can choose not to.
You may know how to do a lot of things you never wanted to know, like suffer need or loss. But you can exercise strength in all things—if you choose to. Each day is a microcosm of opportunity to do all things in Christ’s strength—the good, the bad, and the ugly included!
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