Key Verse: I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. (Philippians 3:12 NLT)
12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.
13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it,[a] but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,
14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
Reflection: (Philippians 3:12-14)
Paul said that his goal was to know Christ, to be like Christ, and to be all Christ had in mind for him.
This goal took all of Paul’s energies.
This is a helpful example for us.
We should not let anything take our eyes off our goal – knowing Christ.
With the single-mindedness of an athlete in training we must lay aside everything harmful and forsake anything that may distract us from being effective Christians.
What is holding you back?
Reflection: (Philippians 3:13-14)
Paul had reason to forget the past – he had held the coats of those who had stoned Stephen, the first Christian martyr (Acts 7:57-58; Paul was called Saul then).
We have all done things for which we are ashamed, and we live in the tension of what we have been and what we want to be.
Because our hope is in Christ, we can let go of past guilt and look forward to what God will help us become.
Don’t dwell on your past.
Instead, grow in the knowledge of God by concentrating on your relationship with Him now.
Realize that you are forgiven, and then move on to a life of faith and obedience.
Look forward to a fuller and more meaningful life because of your hope in Christ.
15 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.
16 But we must hold on to the progress we have already made.
Reflection: (Philippians 3:15-16)
Sometimes trying to live a perfect Christian life can be so difficult that it leaves us drained and discouraged.
We may feel so far from perfect that we think we can never please God with our lives.
Paul used the term perfection (Philippians 3:12) to mean mature or complete, not flawless in every detail.
Those who are mature should press on in the Holy Spirit’s power, knowing that Christ will reveal and fill in any discrepancy between what we are and what we should be.
Christ’s provision is no excuse for lagging devotion, but it provides relief and assurance for those who feel driven.
Reflection: (Philippians 3:16)
Christian maturity involves acting on the guidance that you have already received.
We can always make excuses that we still have so much to learn.
The instruction for us is to live up to what we have already learned.
We do not have to be sidetracked by an unending search for truth.
17 Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example.
Reflection: (Philippians 3:17)
Paul challenged the Philippians to pursue Christlikeness by following Paul’s own pattern or example.
This did not mean of course, that they should copy everything he did; he had just stated that he was not perfect (Philippians 3:12),
But as he focused his life on being like Christ, so should they,
The Gospels were not yet in circulation, so Paul could not tell them to read the Bible to see what Christ was like.
Therefore, he urged them to imitate him.
That Paul could tell people to follow his example is a testimony to his character.
Can you do the same?
What kind of followers would new Christians become if they imitated you?
18 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.
19 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.
Reflection: Philippians 3:19)
Paul gets tough with people who live to appease their appetites, who believe so strongly in their greatness that they become slaves to pride.
What horrible people these must be – so concerned with earthly trivia that during worship their minds wander; so consumed with work that worship is inconvenient; so busy planning the next party that there is not time for prayer.
Paul says they are headed for destruction because all they can think about is this life here on earth.
But then we must ask ourselves; “Is too much of our time spent on efforts that will bot endure eternity, seeking earthly pleasures, or satisfying our physical desires?”
We must set our minds on knowing Christ, not on the pursuit of this world.
20 But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.
Reflection: (Philippians 3:20)
Citizens of a Roman colony were expected to promote the interests of Rome and maintain the dignity of the city.
In the same way, citizens of heaven ought to promote heaven’s interests on earth and lead lives worthy of heavenly citizenship.
Too many Christians have failed to transfer their citizenship to heaven.
They still seek earthly pleasures and treasures instead of heavenly ones.
Paul told the Colossians to remember that they are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives.
Have you transferred your citizenship?
How are you promoting heaven’s interests?
21 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.
Reflection: (Philippians 3:17-21)
Paul criticized not only the Judaizers but also self-indulgent Christians – people who claimed to be Christians but didn’t live up to Christ’s model of servanthood and self-sacrifice.
Such people satisfy their own desires before even thinking about the needs of others.
Freedom in Christ does not mean freedom to be selfish.
It means taking every opportunity to serve and to become the best person you can be.
Reflection: (Philippians 3:21)
The phrase “weak mortal bodies” does not imply any negative attitude toward the human body.
But the bodies we will receive when we are raised from the dead will be glorious, like Christ’s resurrected body.
Those who struggle with pain, physical limitations, or disabilities can have wonderful hope in the future resurrected (For more details see 1 Corinthians 15:35; 2 Corinthians 5:1-10).
4 :1Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters,[b] 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.
Reflection: (Philippians 4:1)
How do we “stay true to the Lord”?
This refers to what Paul has just taught (Philippians 3:20-21).
The way to stay true is to keep our eyes on Christ, to remember that this world is not our home, and to focus on the fact that Christ will bring everything under His control.
Staying true means steadfastly resisting the negative influences of temptation, false teaching, or persecution.
It requires perseverance when we are challenged or opposed.
Don’t lose heart or give up.
God promises to give us strength of character. With the Holy Spirit’s help and with the help of fellow believers, you can stay true to the Lord.