Philippians 3:12-16 – Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 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.
Paul, from prison, writes the letter to the Philippians while in jail chained to a Roman soldier. As we have established, his theme is joy. If he can wake up every day with a smile on his face, we need to learn the eight reasons he gives for us to wake up cheerful every day:
- Get past any perfectionism. If you are a perfectionist who is overly focused on where you’ve not quite done everything right and are still a work in process, don’t feel bad. After thirty years as a Christian, the guy writing the Bible says he had not yet arrived and was also still in process.
- If you cannot fix it then flush it.There are some things in life that we can fix, like a strained relationship, catching up on Bible reading, or starting to give generously. There are many things in life that we cannot fix, like a past mistake, a person that does not want help, or what decisions other people make.
- You know you have healed when you can talk about the past and have moved on from it. Most people drag the worst of their past into their future. They will say that it’s in the past, they’ve moved on, or it’s behind them. But unless they can talk about it in a way that is healthy and honest, then they are not well. For example, just prior to this section of Philippians, Paul recounted the worst things he’d done in his past.
- To move forward, you need to leave some people and things behind. To start walking with Jesus meant that lots of people stopped walking with Paul and the same is true for you.
- Don’t look back. Like Lot’s wife who looked back and turned into a pillar of salt, one way to get frozen is to obsess over your past, thereby neglecting your future. I am told that the reason they put blinders on a horse pulling a wagon is because they will otherwise look back, think they are being chased, and run in terror until they die. The human version is a stressed-out person running through life killing themselves.
- The best is yet to come so believe by faith until you see by sight. God has greatness, by his standards, in your future. It may not be what the world is hoping for, but it is awesome to live in God’s will.
- Only God can create joy that is genuine, healthy, and unending. Satan and sin cannot create a culture of joy. That can only be found in the Lord by the children of God.
- God has joy in your present and future that is bigger than your past mess-ups. Paul was a religious terrorist who had Christians arrested and at least one church leader murdered. His past mess-ups were epic, but Jesus loved him, saved him, forgave him, changed him, and had a future for him.
Do you really believe that what God has for your future is somehow, in His accounting, bigger than any things you regret in your past?