“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.” — Philippians 3:15-16
I’m 42 years old, but I’m not as mature as I want to be.
I’ve been studying Philippians with my Precept group and so many life lessons are echoing what Paul is writing about first to the early church in Philippi and also to us as Christ-followers. Our pastor Bro. Ricky Cunningham even stepped away from the teaching series on Acts to teach from Philippians 3 to start the new year because it’s about new life resolutions, not just new year resolutions. (Watch that encouraging sermon here.)
God is wanting me to hear some things, that’s for sure.
In Philippians 3, Paul is repeating himself because what he’s saying is important:
- Put no confidence in the flesh.
- He counts all the many earthly gains as loss for the sake of Christ.
- Faith in Christ leads to righteousness.
- Believers share in Christ’s suffering and the power of his resurrection.
- Paul is pressing on toward the prize of Christ.
- He forgets what lies behind.
- Strains forward to what lies ahead.
Paul had been a Christ-follower for about 30 years at this point. He grew up among the people of Israel, from the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews, a Pharisee, a zealous persecutor of the church, and righteousness under the law. But Christ changed him from the inside out and now we’re encouraged to imitate him (verse 17). We should imitate him because he points to Christ alone.
Do people want to imitate me? Some days they should; other days they definitely should not.
When I’m mature enough to “think” like Paul did (verse 15), I’m able to be understanding and wise. I can control my thoughts because I rest in my identity in Christ alone. On days I wake up grumbling because I didn’t sleep well or I’m worried about circumstances far beyond my control, nobody should imitate my grumpy self-centeredness.
Only let me hold true to what I have attained (verse 16).
Too often I let my circumstances dictate my attitude when I know the truth is I’m called to be of the same mind as Christ. I start to believe lies of convenience and assumption rather than rely on the truth that I know deep in my soul or have the conversations that bring me back to reality. Those lies — all the lies — steal my joy.
In addition to studying Philippians, I’m reading “Live No Lies” by John Mark Comer. On a morning when I woke up in a hot, crowded bed much earlier than I liked, I read this:
“The daily decision to rejoice — to cultivate a way of seeing our lives in God’s good world, not through the lens of our phones, news apps, or flesh, but through gratitude, celebration, and unhurried delight — will over time from us into joyful, thankful people who deeply enjoy life with God and others. What starts as an act of will eventually turns into our inner nature. What begins with a choice eventually becomes a character. … We make our decisions, and then our decisions make us.”
I want to make mature decisions. I want to be like Paul. Ultimately, I want to be like Jesus.
While Precept encourages applications from scripture study, every now and then there’s an application prompt that’s a little different from the usual lessons. That’s what happens at the end of the lesson about Philippians 3. Specifically, I was supposed to take some truth that God has spoken to me through Philippians 3 and develop it in such a way to share it with others. So that’s what prompted this devotional writing that helped me work through some disjointed thoughts in my head. I hope you’re also encouraged.