Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Philippians 3:12-15
I’ve been thinking about this passage in how it relates to maturity and mentorship. It’s tremendously encouraging.
First, Paul the mentor/ pastor reminds people who are watching him that he has not arrived at the finish line. He’s still living the Christian life, and he’s not perfect, but he wants us to know his mindset as he runs the Christian race.
When the past becomes a weight, it should be left behind.
- If it’s sin, then it should be confessed and left behind.
- We might be afraid to change our minds! If we believed a decision right at the time or somebody else believed them right at the time (not talking about husbands), then we should forget what is behind and pursue what is right.
- If a thing is distracting me, even if it isn’t sin, and it is interfering with what I know is right, then I need to leave it behind, too.
- Sometimes the process of maturing weighs us down. We see how far we have to go, how much we have to learn, and other people’s spiritual accomplishments, and we’re discouraged. This kind of thinking is itself a weight.
Notice that I’m not merely forgetting things which are behind (put off the old man); I need to press toward a certain goal (put on the new man). Just a few passages earlier, Paul declared his driving passion to know Christ. Yes, there are things to do, and choices to make, but knowing Christ should be our focus. Isaiah says something like this years earlier.
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Isaiah 26:3
Then Paul says something I believe we Christians need to remind ourselves. For those of us who are mature, let’s have this mind. But God will teach a believer who isn’t there yet. Sometimes we have a really hard time trusting that God will do this. We get nervous when we don’t see the Holy Spirit working as we think He ought to.
Now I’m not saying that we don’t teach what is right. I’ve taught some classes on modesty and even wrote a small book on it. I’ve had young girls come up to me and tell me that what I said was a blessing and help, even when they’re wearing something I might cringe at.
I might be tempted to think, “Were they not listening? Maybe I need to hit those key points a little harder.” But the fact is, if that girl is submissive to the Holy Spirit, and I’ve done my responsibility to teach what is right, then I must rest in knowing that the Holy Spirit will teach her what she needs to learn.
That’s true of parenting and wifehood. I can teach a younger woman what I believe is right, and I think we should. But I must ultimately trust as Paul said that “if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.” Just keep pressing toward the mark!
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.Hebrews 12:1-3
Excellent points in this post. (And I had to chuckle when you called irritability a euphemism for anger in another post – touche’!)
Around our house recently, we’re discovering self-centeredness as being the root of nearly everything we’re working on…and we’re taking steps to “think of others” instead. Hard work! (At least, Martin thinks so! LOL) As to what you wrote above, it’s interesting how allowing (or not allowing!) God’s work in someone else’s life can be linked to whether we’re being self-centered or whether we can rest in His plan for others. It’s not easy to trust that the work is being done when we don’t see immediate fruits!
…which is why your blog is always an encouragement to me. Glad I stopped by to catch up today! 😀
You’re always welcome to stop by, Gina! Self-centeredness does show up when we least expect it. Martin’s right! It is hard work to fight the flesh. We need God’s strength, and since I’ve preached myself into conviction, I need to go. 🙂