Our culture is fueled and driven by music, movies, and television.
With the Oscars and Grammys being one week after the other, the news is abuzz with who will win Album or Record of the Year, or Best Picture or Actor or Actress.
We’re still a few days away from the Oscars, but the Grammys were at the beginning of the week, and the results were somewhere between predictable and shocking. Alabama Shakes shocked people for Rock Album of the Year, Chris Stapleton took Country Album of the Year, and our beloved Taylor Swift won Album of the Year. Honestly, Taylor was the most enjoyable individual to watch.
But, it wasn’t about the fact that Taylor won Album of the Year that made her that way. She was nominated for two other Grammys, and her reactions to all three are priceless. Check out this HuffPost video:
Isn’t she just amazing? I have a major celebrity crush on her.
Why is this video clip important though?
We as people have a hard time celebrating other people’s accomplishments, even when their winning means us losing. We’re naturally sore losers. We royally stink at taking second place.
Yes, even us Christians. We are the worst losers out there. We sit there and claim Philippians 4:13 (out of context, mind you) and get all whiny whenever the opposition comes out on top.
Warning: I’m about to burst your bubble and say something you might not like. But, don’t stop reading. Please. There’s much more coming after I say what I’m going to say.
If you’re quoting Philippians 4:13 in order to say that you can do everything successfully you put your hand to in God’s name, you’re wrong.
Just like you wouldn’t read a sentence of Harry Potter without reading the ones before and after it, it’s unwise to read scripture with that mindset.
When we read verses like Philippians 4:13, it seems like the message is pretty clear: you can conquer anything as long as you’re doing it through Christ’s strength. And if you just read that verse, then you’d be right.
But, that’s not how scripture is supposed to be read.
Let’s look quickly at the surrounding sentences. Here’s what it says, with verse 13 bolded:
10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 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. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
The true heart of these three verses is the second half of verse 11: “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.”
The Apostle Paul, a man who used to persecute Christians for a living and miraculously repented and began following Christ by planting the majority of the New Testament Church, is near the end of his life when he writes this, and as he recounts situations in his life, he realizes that through everything he’s experienced, he was only able to get through it by God’s grace and provision.
In Christ and Christ alone, we can be content with our situations, whether they’re good or bad. We can find satisfaction in Him despite the disappointments and letdowns. The entire purpose of these verses is no matter what we’re going through, if we have Christ, we have the ultimate source of joy, peace, and satisfaction.
Regardless of the religious affiliation or involvement of Taylor Swift, she sets a really good example for those of us who are professing Christians. Even though she lost to them, she still was overcome with joy when her friends won. When she won, she wasn’t selfish in her speech; she used it to motivate and encourage others.
THAT’s exactly what we should be doing.
When our friends do well, we should rejoice with them. Even when they beat us out for something we’ve been working hard to achieve, we should rejoice. Yes, it’s okay to be disappointed, but we shouldn’t let our disappointment sour the fact that our friend, someone we care about, did well and earned something.
When we do well, we shouldn’t be selfish. We should be excited, yes, but we should be quick to admit that we couldn’t have gotten to where are without the help of others, and show our appreciation for our friends by saying so much as, “Thank you for your help, I couldn’t have done this without you.”
In addition to showing appreciation, we should use our wins to encourage others that they can win too, regardless of the circumstances.
Above all else, we need to understand scripture better, and in context. When we take verses like Philippians 4:13 and distort their meaning to our own agendas, we end up losing the power behind the words. Instead of saying that we can accomplish anything we do in Christ’s name, Philippians 4:13 tells us that in every circumstance, whether in feast or famine, abundance or absence, we can make it through only by Jesus’ strength and work within our lives.
There are so many more verses like that, where the original meaning is lost due to our perversion and twisting to our agendas. Eric Bargerhuff wrote a book called The Most Misused Verses in the Bible: Surprising Ways God’s Word Is Misunderstood, where he tackles the true meaning behind verses like Jeremiah 29:11, Matthew 7:1, and Matthew 18:20. I highly encourage you to read it and learn more about the verses that are so common to us all.
We may not be Taylor Swift. We may not even have the ability to sing, or even carry a tune in a bucket. But, we can live in her example of rejoicing in the accomplishments of others, and responding humbly when we accomplish something.
When we win, we win because of Christ. When we lose, we still have Jesus to get us through even the worst of losses.
What was your favorite moment of the award season this year? (Grammys, Oscars, and/or Golden Globes)