Living Life with God's Irrepressible Joy
Maturity. Today this trait is grossly lacking in our society; however, it used to be an esteemed and desired attribute. Maturity was something all young people used to strive to attain and was a characteristic expected by adulthood.
No one enjoys being around immature people and very few would entrust important or critical tasks or jobs to immature individuals. In contrast, most people entrusted with much must be mature in character and conduct.
In the same way, God calls us to be mature in our spiritual lives and spiritual thinking. We were never intended to stay infants in the faith forever, but are called to grow and mature into strong men and women in Christ. In Philippians, Paul shares with us the mindset of the mature Christian as he shares his testimony and mission.
“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.”
This is the mindset of the mature believer. Their one goal and life vision is to “press on towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” And how do we do this? By forgetting what’s in the past. All the past hurts, lost dreams, failures, insecurities, doubts, and lack of faith. Forgetting all of that and straining forward to what lies ahead.
The word straining has the idea of working extremely hard, pushing the limits of our ability. Just as a marathon runner strains to finish the race and pushes his body beyond the point of exhaustion, so also, we need to strain forward to what lies ahead. We can’t get stuck and bogged down by the past, but must always be looking forward and pressing on towards that goal.
It’s so easy to let the sins of the past weigh us down in the present, which impacts our future. Satan keeps trying to tell us that we’re not good enough for God’s kingdom or His work, or that because of our past failures we can’t keep running towards the goal of God’s prize.
But that’s a lie!
In Christ, we are forgiven and made whole. If we’ve surrendered those sins and failures to our gracious Savior, He has forgiven and washed us, making us new again and whole. So when we fall or have experienced several stumbles, don’t stay down. Get up! And rejoin the race. Don’t let Satan’s lies keep you from the prize. If Paul, a persecutor of Christians and the one responsible for their deaths, can move on from his past and strain forward to what lies ahead, then so can we. By the grace and mercy of God, we can join Paul in declaring:
“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.”
May this be our one and supreme goal in life: no matter what happens, we will always press forward toward Christ. For this is God’s call for us and the mindset of the mature Christian. So let’s be mature believers who are obedient and faithful to the call of God.