God recently gave me a revelation about a particular verse that I have read countless times over the years.
It is significant because understanding this verse in a different way sheds light on the way God works in our lives.
The key to this whole revelation was reading the verse in a translation that I don’t normally use. The real meaning of the verse hit home with laser accuracy.
Here’s the verse, Philippians 2:13, as it appears in the English Standard Version (ESV), the translation I normally read:
For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
For me, the meaning had always been clear enough—God is fulfilling His will through His work. And that made sense to me, as God is, of course, going to do the things that line up with His will and what He wants.
But here is the same verse in the New Living Translation (NLT), the translation used in an email I recently read from a ministry I routinely receive messages from:
For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
Many people may read these two translations and immediately see that they’re saying the same thing.
However, when I read this verse in the NLT, it had a completely different meaning to me than I had previously interpreted it from the ESV and other similar translations.
All these years, I had read the verse as meaning that God is the one doing the willing and the working for His good pleasure.
After reading this passage in the NLT, however, I now realized that God is actively moving in my life to create the desire to serve Him and the power to do so.
I’m the one with the “will” and who will do the “work.” It’s not God. I had always interpreted the second part of the verse (after the comma) as just an extension of the first. I had read the second part as basically repeating the first part.
But that was wrong. God is actually helping me by giving me the desire to do His will and serve Him.
He hasn’t left me alone to live in a quagmire of weak faith and uncertainty.
He is working daily in my life, increasing my faith and developing in me a deeper desire to live my life for him and perform the works that He has planned for me to do (Eph. 2:10).
To confirm what I was seeing, I checked a few other modern translations and found that they were translated similarly to the NLT.
Of course, I could see how the verse could be interpreted incorrectly—as I had done for years— but, more importantly, I also now saw how it could be interpreted in this other way.
I couldn’t believe that I had held the wrong interpretation of this verse for decades. I found it strange that I had never read it like this before.
Perhaps most other people have always interpreted the verse correctly. Or maybe there are others like me who have held the wrong view of this verse.
This revelation changes how I think about my relationship with God. He longs for me to serve Him with my actions and attitudes. That’s why He’s working in me to create the desire to live my life for Him.
It’s not up to me and my feeble efforts to become the person God wants me to be. I’m getting a big helping hand from God Himself. He’s working on my behalf to help me become what I should be and to serve Him better.
To me, that makes all the difference. Hopefully, it makes a difference to you as well.