Because our time was cut short on Sunday, I’d like to give you the remainder of the message in a couple of chunks on the blog today and tomorrow. That will allow us to continue on with the next passage this Sunday.
If you missed the message on Sunday, you can find it here.
There are three ways that keeping my eyes on the prize helps me in the race.
Keeping my eyes on Christ keeps me constantly aware that He is what truly matters. I don’t know about you, but I’m easily distracted. But when I’m enjoying fellowship with Him in the Word, prayer, and Christian fellowship, it is kept always in front of me that He is what matters and I find earthly distractions less and less appealing. The Word testifies to this in many different ways and many different places. And if my prayers are being informed by that Word, the content of my prayers affirms to myself and the Lord that He is ultimate. And if my fellowship with other believers is intentionally Christ-centered, then I’m constantly hearing other people testify to His surpassing value. So in those ways I’m kept constantly aware that He is what truly matters. Second:
Keeping my eyes on Christ keeps me constantly aware that the race is not over. When my eyes are on the Lord, my mind is on the Lord, my speech is on the Lord, its patently obvious all the time that I don’t have Him in all His fullness. I’m straining forward to that time. Clearly, the race isn’t over and I’m compelled to continue pressing on. I’m moved to continue serving Him and His gospel.
Keeping my eyes on Christ keeps me constantly moving in the direction of godliness. When my eyes are on the Lord, I’m always aware of His great holiness and my desire to be like Him grows and grows. And I’m prompted to recognize sin in my life, parts of my character and conduct that are not like Him, and I’m prompted and empowered to kill that sin and grow in godliness. Keeping my eyes on the Lord keeps me moving in the direction of Christlikeness.
And our final point:
The Mature Believer Thinks This Way
V15: Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.
Think what way? He means adopt the kind of mindset that he’s just described in himself. Think of the Christian life as a race that is still being run. Think that there is still much left to do. Think that what is left outstanding of the kingdom is worth straining forward to attain. Think that the fullness of Christ is so desirable that there is no sense in resting on our laurels. Think that being like Christ is so wonderful that making every effort to kill sin and grow in Christlikeness is worth it.
Let those of us who are mature think this way. So then does it follow that those who are immature shouldn’t think this way? If you are new to the faith or you know yourself to be particularly immature, do you have a green light to consider that you have arrived spiritually? Certainly not. He’s simply saying, “what I’ve just described, this way of thinking, this is how mature believers think. And it’s how you should strive to think.”
So if you look at your own mind and heart and you don’t see this attitude of Paul’s, this holy dissatisfaction with where you are spiritually, this holy discontentment with your current fellowship with Christ, this holy hunger to run the race well, that is a mark of spiritual immaturity. If you find yourself to be quite content with your spiritual progress, if you are satisfied with how much you’re currently like Jesus, if you’re fine marking time rather than pressing forward for kingdom work, if you don’t really have a preference about how soon you see the Lord, that’s a sign that you’ve got some maturing to do.
In other words, if you’re thinking and living as if you’ve arrived, that means you haven’t. The spiritually mature realize that they have a lot more maturing to do. The spiritually mature realize they haven’t arrived. There’s much left to do.
So if we see that marker of immaturity in ourselves should we be depressed about that? No. We should do just what Paul models for us here: we should forget what lies behind and press on to what lies ahead. The great news is that Christ matures people. The Holy Spirit makes people like Jesus.
Then he writes, …and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. So this idea that I’ve arrived, feeling no sense of urgency to press on, you see how God has shown you that that isn’t a sign of maturity but of immaturity, and that you should reverse course in your thinking? Well, there may be other things like that about which you are thinking wrongly, too. But good news. The Lord will reveal that to you, too.
(To be continued tomorrow…)