April 14, 2014.
I am really starting to feel the pressure of the end of the semester today. I have many things to do before tomorrow and the rest of the week. It is times like these that I have to buckle down and get to business. It’s hard, but I know it must be done so I will do it. I was thinking about all the things I have to do and it reminded me of what Paul wrote to the church at Philippi.
“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.”
Our spiritual lives can (and probably should) carry the same importance that this physical life does that makes us buckle down and press on. Paul felt this, as he said he had not obtained the prize yet, but was ever striving towards the goal. It is good to have goals in mind. If you don’t know your destination, you will end up drifting and wandering, never having a direction. This is not the Christian mindset, as we have a destination and direction. We have a duty. It helps that we keep the end in mind. We should keep our eyes on Jesus in all aspects of our lives.
But how often do our physical lives get in the way? Our cares, our worries, our fears? I believe if we first give our time to God, he will give us the time to get whatever we need to get done, done. I can’t guarantee everything will go smoothly, but that was not our promise. Our promise was that everything will work together for good for us who love The Lord. But we must seek his kingdom first.
To me it is interesting that Paul uses the word “straining” here. This implies that the path to glory is not going to be easy. There is going to be a lot of work involved. Why wouldn’t it? Jesus said “straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, that leads to life, and few there be that find it.” If it were easy, the path wouldn’t be narrow. It is true that God is not willing that any should perish, but He knows the majority will. And that’s a scary thought. This should give us all the more reason to press on towards the upward calling of Christ.
Paul’s advice in pushing towards the goal is to watch others who are doing the same. On different occasions Paul admonishes the people he is writing to to be imitators of him as he imitates Christ. I don’t think he said this just in passing. One of the many blessings of the church is that we have all kinds of different people to look to for help. People who have been there before. People who have experiences we don’t. We can imitate those who have gone though what we are currently in and prevailed. We should take advantage of this gift from God.
Paul goes on to say
“For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”
There are those who oppose the cross, even among us who claim the name of Christ. This broke Paul’s heart. Their minds were set on things of this earth instead of glory. But we are to keep our eyes on the prize, so to speak. Let us all take a minute to step back and refocus our lives, if need be. It could mean the difference of our soul.
Suggested Daily Reading: Philippians 1-4.