Philippians 3:12-16 “12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. 16 Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing” (KJV).
A professional archer or marksmen will spend hours practicing in order to reach the goal of “hitting the mark”. Like any athlete, the road to success is paved by dedication and commitment. What separates an excellent athlete from a great one? A great athlete recognizes the never-ending need to improve his or her skills.
Paul reminds the Philippians that he is not perfect in his Christian walk. He displays a level of humility that we should all take note of. Paul, inspired by God, wrote 13 books of the New Testament (14 if you believe he wrote Hebrews). He is considered one of the greatest missionaries of all times. Yet, he makes sure to point out his consistent need to fine tune his Christian walk.
As Christians, I believe we all desire to grow closer to the Lord. I doubt anyone would be so bold to think or admit they have reached their peak in Christian living. The verses above teach us many things about our walk with the Lord. Here are just a few that the Lord placed on my heart today:
- Humility as defined by the dictionary, states that humility is “a modest or low view of one’s own importance” 1. The Bible defines humility as the “lowliness of mind”. Humility for the Christian is defined by the removal of self, which is done through the heart. Like the great athlete, humility is the ability to recognize the need to improve. Our sin nature will always leave us room to grow closer to the Lord. The first step is to examine ourselves with a humble heart.
- The second step is to let the past go. Paul stated it as “forgetting those things which are behind”. In order for an athlete to improve a certain skill(s), they must forget the old way of doing them. A golfer may be the best example for this. If you recognize the need to improve your golf swing, you must begin by removing the part of your swing that is causing you trouble. If you hold on to your bad habits, your swing will never improve. The Christian walk is the same way.
- Focus on the Lord. Your best efforts to change bad habits into Godly ones will fail if you do not focus on the Lord. If you are attempting to grow closer to the Lord because someone advised you too, it will not work. Remember, it begins in the heart; your heart must be willing to make the sacrifices to change. Your golf instructor can tell you what to do in order to improve your swing, but unless you really want to change, the advice will be useless. A preacher delivers instructions through a sermon, but if we don’t apply the message, change will not happen.
- Press toward the Mark. Once you recognize the need to improve your walk and you desire change, then you must commit to that change. Paul used the word “Press” as a verb and “toward” as the preposition. Here is an example: I recognize the need to improve my prayer time. I have to forget my old methods and commit to a new way. In order to put the new way into action, I have to actively “Press” and consistently practice the new way. Making sure that my old habits do not come back. I do this by keeping my mind focused “toward” the goal and not on the task. If I focus on the task “making time for prayer”, I will lose sight of the goal. My prayer time will be nothing more than a block of time set aside during the day.
- The goal is to bring honor and glory to the Lord. I do this by fine tuning my Christian walk, improve my skills, and devote time for practice in order to hit the mark continuously.
“I know the Bible is inspired because it inspires me” 2
The Silent Preacher
1 Dictionary. Retrieved 12/5/14 from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/humility
2 D.L. Moody. Retrieved 12/5/14 from http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/d/dwight_l_moody.html#jAfIfoUGClmlVA6r.99