THE FINISHING LINE
Thank You, Father, for making me Your child.
Read Philippians 3:12–21
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Following Paul’s Example
15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Reflect“Christ Jesus has made me his own” (Phil. 3:12, NRSV). Spend some time meditating on this statement.
I once delivered a sermon on a bicycle, pedaling around the church. I was trying to illustrate the fact that much of Paul’s writing is combating two extremes. Just as it is possible to fall off a bicycle to the left or the right, Paul argues that it is possible to misunderstand the Christian Gospel by leaning too hard either towards “duty” (it all depends on you) or towards “freedom” (Christ has set us free from the Law, so do as you like). He has just been warning against legalism. But there were also “enemies of the cross” (18) who used the resurrection victory of Jesus as a pretext to indulge their every desire (19). Following either set of false teachers would lead to a painful crash.
So Paul offers the church a way forward: “join together in following my example” (17a). They have observed Paul “riding without training wheels,” sometimes seeming to lean one way, sometimes the other, but always looking forward (13,20), not crashing. Others have mastered this art too (17b). The secret to this wonderful balance lies in verse 12: “I press on to make [the prize] my own because Christ Jesus has made me his own” (NRSV). As Christ holds me in his hands, I am to reach out my hands to take hold of the prize.
What is your tendency: towards “duty” or towards “freedom”? How can you guard against this danger? What might God be drawing you toward on the “other side” of the balance?
Gracious God, grant me the wisdom to know when to choose duty and when to choose freedom.
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