Summary: Learn from Paul, who has accomplished great things for God, these four keys to a successful life: (1) face your faults, (2) forget the former, (3) focus on the future, and (4) fight to the finish.
We are going to look at Paul again this morning, and learn about success in life.
• The best way to learn something is to learn it from real life, not from books, from models not from manuals.
• I want to look at someone who has accomplished what I want to accomplish.
• So we are going to look at a Christian who has done great things for the Lord – written half of the NT and evangelized almost half of the Roman Empire.
• We want to make our life count, just as Paul made his count in his lifetime.
In Philippians 3, we have Paul’s autobiography. In the first 11 verses he deals with his past.
• Let’s read Phil 3:12-21 in which he deals with his present and his future. He lays down some principles for a successful life. [Read Phil 3:12-21]
Paul encourages us to follow his example – verse 17 “Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.”
So what is his pattern? We can derive 4 areas of concerns to a successful life:
(1) EVALUATION: Face My Faults
In verse 12 Paul says “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect.” Verse 13: “I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it…”
• It reminds me of Rom 12:3 “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”
• Paul was honest enough to recognize that he is still growing, that he has not arrived yet.
• Despite the fact that he was probably much better than many, he did not let that overwhelm him. He was honest about his shortfall.
It is when we recognize our own weaknesses that we grow. It is when we know our mistakes that we learn.
• Charles H. Spurgeon says, “It is not our littleness that hinders Christ; but our bigness. It is not our weakness that hinders Christ; it is our strength. It is not our darkness that hinders Christ; it is our supposed light that holds back His hand.”
To have Paul says he has not succeeded yet or reached perfection at this point is really amazing.
• Because he is at the last stage of his life, an old man by now.
• If anybody had the right to claim he had arrived, it would be Paul. He has already completed 3 missionary journeys across the Roman Empire, written Galatians, Thessalonians, Corinthians, Romans, Philemon, Colossians, and Ephesians.
• He made an incredible impact on the world. If he says he has not arrived, I wonder who has.
Here is the point: Successful people never stop growing. They never stop learning.
• A Christian should never stop growing. He is always learning, growing, improving and expanding the work of God.
• Rather than saying “Look how far I’ve come,” we ought to say, “Look how far I can still go!”
Be honest about your weaknesses and failures. The question to ask is, "Where do I need to change?"
(2) ELIMINATION: Forget the Former; let go of your past.
Verse 13: “This one thing I do, forgetting what is behind.”
• Don’t live in the past. Don’t be crippled by the memories of the past. You cannot move on in life if you are staying in the past.
• There are those who cannot let go of their past failures, always living in regret.
• There are those who cannot forget the past glory, always living in nostalgia; a longing for the good old days.
Paul says if he is going to be all God wants him to be, he’s not going to waste any more time on yesterday. It’s gone. It’s past. My past is past. I let go of my guilt, grief, grudges.
• I let go of the past so I can get on with the present.
• Isa 43:18-19 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”
• It’s almost like God saying, “Don’t day-dream. See what I am doing in the lives of people today.”
How do you “forget the former things”? What does it mean to really forget something?
• It means I am not going to let the past affect me anymore. Don’t let the past control you or manipulate you.
• Successful people learn from the past without dwelling on the past. There’s a big difference. Successful people learn from the past and once they learn, they let it go and move on. They don’t keep hounding themselves about the past.