By Chuck Griffin
Philippians 3:13-14:1 (NLT)
No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you. But we must hold on to the progress we have already made.
Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example. For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth. But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stay true to the Lord. I love you and long to see you, dear friends, for you are my joy and the crown I receive for my work.
Yesterday’s devotional focused on the big ending, the “last days,” the end of time—and those who don’t live as if it is coming. Today’s Bible passage invites us to think about our own personal finish.
Paul’s message is aimed squarely at those who already have accepted Christ and are (or should be) seeking holy “perfection,” something Paul said he had not achieved himself. Salvation through Jesus Christ is given freely, but it’s evident in Paul’s writings and in other epistles that some Holy Spirit-inspired striving is to be a continuing part of the Christian life.
I think of the effort we make as the thank-you notes to God we write with our lives. The more we live and love as Jesus did, the nicer the notes become through the years.
And certainly, we don’t want to slip backward in our beliefs or behavior. What we understood early in our faith walk is just as true now: Jesus Christ is Lord. His teachings and the teachings that continued to flow through his early followers remain true, passed to us through Scripture.
We may grow spiritually, but we never grow out of following and espousing core Christian truths. They are the stones upon which we build, not clay to be molded into new shapes.
Even in Paul’s day, people in the church sometimes believed they had become so worldly wise over the years that they could move beyond the basic idea that Jesus Christ died for our sins, and that as our savior he has certain expectations for our lives.
Sadly, they had actually fallen from their early, supernaturally inspired faith, posing a danger to newer Christians around them.
Finish well. Others are watching. And never forget, the finish line is the beginning of a greater experience.
Lord, may we always trust in the Christian truths first revealed to us, and may we never reach an age where we say, “I am done growing in Christ.” Amen.