Summary: Paul had experienced much success in ministry, and yet he knew he had not arrived. He resolved to release the past, embrace the present, and anticipate the future. We must continue to seek all the Lord has for us. We cannot be complacent or satisfied.
Committed to Serve
As you study the life of Paul, you realize the opportunities he once enjoyed. As far as men were concerned, Paul once had it all – power, position, and prestige. He was a rising star with a bright future within the religious elite in Jerusalem. All of that changed in a moment when he met the Lord in salvation. His coming to Christ and commitment to the Gospel cost him much of what he had acquired. Many would have become depressed, but Paul saw life as it truly was. He realized all he had obtained prior to Christ was worthless when compared to the eternal weight of his position in Christ. He would gladly trade it all again if given the chance. He had learned true contentment in Christ and sought to instill that peace within other believers.
He modeled genuine servitude to Christ, and yet Paul knew there was room for improvement in his life. His hunger for growth in the Lord never waned, and he lived his life in pursuit of complete, spiritual maturity. Having shared the realization of loss being gain, Paul now sought to challenge to Philippians to follow his example. He offered details of what a committed servant’s life should resemble. Let’s examine the characteristics of such a servant as we consider: Committed to Serve.
I. A Servant’s Attitude (12) – Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Paul revealed his attitude and heart toward ministry. Notice:
A. His Position (12a) – Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect. Bear in mind the many accomplishments he had already enjoyed in ministry. God had used him mightily following his conversion, and yet Paul admits that he had not attained spiritual maturity. He admitted there was room for continued growth in his life. While he enjoyed his position in Christ, he longed to know the Lord more intimately. Paul was not complacent or satisfied with his life and ministry. He always sought ways to grow and mature.
That is very humbling for me, and it ought to be for everyone who seeks to follow Christ and serve Him. If the great apostle knew he had not arrived, and saw room for improvement, how much more should we sense our need and strive for continued growth? I am thankful for all the Lord has done for me and the opportunities I have enjoyed, but I know there is much yet to accomplish. I desire to know Christ more intimately as well.
B. His Pursuit (12b) – but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Paul continued to desire a deeper knowledge of Christ. He followed after the Lord, seeking to take hold of that which was available in Christ. The Lord had taken hold of his life, miraculously transforming him, and Paul wanted everything that was available. If there were any unrealized blessings or wisdom to obtain, Paul was determined to strive for those.
I have said many times that we live below our means spiritually. The Lord has much for us and yet we are often content with a meager supply. We need the attitude of Paul in striving to obtain everything available in Christ.
II. A Servant’s Ambition (13-14) – Here Paul discussed the zealous ambition he had in pursuing Christ. Such an ambition stood as a strong example for the church to imitate. Consider:
A. His Admission (13a) – Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended. Again Paul emphasizes his need for continued growth. He admits that he had not arrived spiritually. There was still much work to be completed. He desired a closer walk with the Lord and increased wisdom. Simply, Paul was never content or satisfied with his current position. He always desired more in Christ.
If we are honest, complacency is the plaque of the modern church. Most are content with things as they are. They are content with their current spiritual standing, being as close to the Lord as they care to be. They are content with the state of the church and those who attend our services. They are content with the ministries the church is currently pursuing. There is no desire for anything more than what is currently present. (I am certainly thankful for all the Lord has done and is doing, but I am in no way satisfied with things as they are. I know there is room for personal growth in my life and growth within our church. I pray the Lord will shake us from our state of complacency and place a committed resolve to follow after Him!)