“That I may know Christ…”
January always brings with it a rash of New Year’s resolutions. Need to organize your home? Lose weight? Get in shape? How about work on relationships? Make a resolution! Will it work? Probably not. Having a January birthday, I do like to take the time to evaluate my life and goals at the beginning of the year. Have I made progress? What new goals shall I set and what steps are needed to reach those goals? Is it helpful to think through these questions? Sometimes.
If we were able to talk to the apostle Paul about New Year’s resolutions, he would probably tell us that he was single-mindedly pursuing one goal with all of his energy, all of the time–not just in January! What goal characterized Paul’s life? The goal of knowing Christ and being found in Him, with His righteousness. Through his writings, we get the picture of Paul, like an Olympic runner running the race. He was not losing time by looking behind at his past, but was constantly reaching forward and focusing on his goal.
Christianity is not a spectator sport, participation is required. We are all on the field competing in this race, but we must compete according to the rules. In the book of Philippians, Paul provides the rules of the game. He is so thankful for the Philippian believers and their participation in the gospel and so confident that “He who began the good work in them” would complete it. In light of this, how does Paul expect them to live? What does a life worthy of the gospel of Christ look like? Here are a few of his exhortations to the Philippians and to us.
- Stand firm in one spirit, with one mind, strive together for the faith
- Don’t be alarmed by opponents–there will be opposition and conflict
- Be intent on one purpose
- Don’t act selfishly, but with a humble mind consider others as more important than yourself
- Follow Christ’s example of humility
- Do everything without grumbling or disputing
- Hold forth the Word of life
- Follow the godly examples in our lives
- Beware of false doctrines and teachers
- Value the riches of Christ above all else
- Live every single day eagerly awaiting our Savior
- Rejoice in the Lord always
- Don’t be anxious…pray!
- Think on the excellent things
- Be content, remembering that the Lord is our Provider
Paul reminds them of his love for them and his prayers on their behalf, “that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ, having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” (Phil. 1:9-11). Our lives, which reflect His character, bring glory and praise to God!
So run on, brothers and sisters! The author of Hebrews says that we have a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, the faithful down through the ages. So joining them, we are “laying aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus…”(Hebrew. 12:1-2).
In this new year, take the time to evaluate your progress in the faith. Be single-minded in your devotion to Christ. Let us press on, today and every day, like the Apostle Paul. And be assured that there are shepherds here at College Park, praying that God will perfect His work in you, for His glory and praise.