I’ve mentioned Horatio Spafford before, a man who lost his “sizeable investments” in the Great Chicago fire, a son to disease and four of his daughters in the sinking of an ocean liner – who could still write: “It is well with my soul.”
Paul listed things that appear to have been important in his life, but eventually he would “count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ.” That’s the same knowledge he spent most of his life sharing with others, truly giving his life to do so.
But I was struck most with Paul’s understanding of his own righteousness:
And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: (Philippians 3:9 KJV)
I recognize that concept because I know the only righteousness I have comes through faith in Christ’s life, teachings and specifically through His death, proven in His resurrection. Through that righteousness by faith, we understand as Paul:
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; (Philippians 3:10 KJV)
That I may know Him, too, and trust the power of His resurrection is not nearly as difficult as being prepared for the fellowship of His sufferings along with the knowledge that some – and Paul did – will follow Him in death for being faithful. We’ve seen that occur this summer.
Verse 13 was used by a missionary during Sunday School:
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14 KJV)
He reminded us that everything we’ve experienced is in our brains. When we recall a previous event, it brings with it sensory perceptions, even emotions. Some are pleasant, some not so much. None of them are where we really want to be. Thus we do need to forget those things that are behind and continually reach for the things before us.
Paul called it pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God. Where we have failed is an opportunity to go forward with a bit more information than we had before. The knowledge of a pitfall we can now miss. We can learn from others’ experiences, too, discerning before making the same error. We strive for a perfection we cannot achieve here, but that we do see in our Lord:
Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. (Philippians 3:15 KJV)
I hadn’t paid close enough attention to the last two-thirds of that verse. I focused on being perfect, and thus minded. But if we are otherwise, we can depend on God to reveal this to us.
How? I see it as growing into a close relationship to Him. Spending time in prayer, in Bible study, learning about Jesus through the gospels and about the men who followed Him, writing about their experiences. Every single day.