In his letter to the Assembly at Philippi, Apostle Paul refers to the various aspects of the mind of a Christian around eleven times. No doubt, he was aware of the importance of the mind of man. The wise man wrote even before Paul, “for as he thinks in his heart, so is he..” Prov 23:7a (MKJV). Thoughts and attitude of an individual greatly affect the day to day life of a person. As God’s people, we ought to know well of a godly thinking pattern, so that our practical life will be right and acceptable before the Lord.
In our text, notice Paul speaks of the mind of a mature Christian. “Let those of us who are mature think this way”. Paul speaks of the growing / developing Christians, who move forward in their spiritual life. Their mind-set or attitude is different from the immature / childish believers. Cf. 1Corinthians 3: 1 – 3; Hebrews 5: 12 – 14. Just like in the physical realm, a born again child of God has to grow and progress spiritually. Thus he / she will stay healthy and established. In this passage (Phil 3: 12 – 15) the writer presents four unique realities a growing Christians comprehends.
1. ‘I have not yet attained’. V.12, 13.
We have seen this truth already. It’s mere childishness to assume that one has achieved everything even when the truth is just the opposite. A growing Christian admits his need to go still further and never boast on the achievements. Cf. Joshua 13:1b. They know that Christian life is a pilgrimage. It’s a continuous process; we cannot claim to have reached the zenith as long as we continue our journey. Always there is still much more to pass through, much more to possess etc. To admit this real state, we need to be aware of the scripture and God’s plan for His people. But above all one needs to be honest and humble.
2. ‘I need to make every effort to go forward’. V. 12 – 14.
A growing Christian is not lazy or complacent. With all his energy doing all what he can to attain further. That’s why Paul says, “I press on” / “I follow after” / “One thing I do” etc. Straining all our spiritual muscles and exerting full strength we must fulfill our spiritual obligations. Take extra efforts in personal preparation and service to reach the area where could not make so far. An inactive and idle Christian is a disgrace to the cause of Christ; he cannot be healthy and productive in spiritual life.
3. ‘Christ has laid hold of me for a purpose’. V. 12b, 14.
What are the reasons behind this dissatisfaction and the serious efforts? Believer realizes that since conversion, the Lord Jesus has taken hold of him for a purpose. He has made us His own and He has a long term program for us. It is to that goal we have to aim, not our selfish ambitions.
So a growing Christian acknowledges the Lordship of Christ and he is aware of the intention for which the Lord has called him. In fact, the more one is focused on this truth, he is challenged and motivated to move forward.
4. ‘I forget those things which are behind’. V. 13.
Many things may have taken place in the past; many victories and many failures. We can always look back and learn lessons, draw inspiration from the past. Nevertheless, memory of the past success does not guarantee our future triumph. Similarly remembering the failures of yesterday may not strengthen us to go forward today. In most cases regret over the past only paralyzes us and hinder our future growth. So a growing Christian refuses to dwell on what went before.
That does not mean that one can simply forget the evil committed and behave as if nothing happened. We cannot just hide our wrongdoings under the carpet and continue, thinking ‘I forget the past’ as Apostle Paul! Any sin whether done against God, others or self must be confessed and settled on the basis of the blood of Jesus Christ as promised in 1John 1:7, 9. Without such a judicial settlement one cannot escape from his / her transgressions.
Confessed and forgiven
However, once confession is made, the Lord graciously forgiven us, we do not need to dwell on it. If God does not remember our sins any more why should we focus on it? Cf. Isaiah 43:25; Hebrews 10:17. It is satanic deception to remind us of settled issues of the earlier period to accuse and condemn us. 1John 3:20.
Mark of a mature believer is he does not live in the past, but focusing the object before him, striving to go forward. Actually it is that contemplation of the goal making him busy and giving no opportunity to dwell on things already gone.
Appreciate and appropriate
Let us examine our mind-set and see if it’s worthy of a mature believer as Paul says here. With all humility let us admit that we have not yet reached the place where we ought to have reached. Be aware of the Lordship of Christ over us and His eternal agenda for each individual. Let us endeavor to reach that goal for which He has apprehended us. Refuse live on the past, but earnestly looking ahead and labor fervently.
If we can appreciate and appropriate these fourfold wonderful truths, Paul says we are on the upward path as growing Christians. What about you?
The Fern that Couldn't Grow
Every member of a family was puzzled over the mystery of a fern that would not grow. Sulking, seemingly, the plant refused to put out new stems. That there might be no injury from transplanting, it had been taken up carefully, and sheltered until it should have been well rooted.
Everything in the way of plant food had been provided, but there it stood, no larger than when brought to the house, an awkward, ugly thing, in a mockingly large flowerpot.
Then arrived a guest who was a horticulturist. He forced a wire down into the earth about the fern's roots, and diagnosed the trouble at once. The plant had been set in stiff clay, and this had become packed hard. Reset in loose soil, the fern grew luxuriously.
Even the flower of God's own planting cannot find root in a heart chocked by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life.—