Summary: Paul was able to really assess all he had put confidence in… concludes that knowing Christ who holds the power of eternal risen life… and even to share in his sufferings as part of knowing him… was the greatest purpose and pleasure life offered.
What is at the center of your life?
Hard question to answer… some of us may be honestly divided … some of us may know what
we believe should be… but the longer we reflect on the question…. The more we realize that
we may not be as centered as we’d like to believe.
Show me a centered life… and you’ll discover an effective life… show me a life with the
most appropriate center and you’ll discover a spiritually vital life.
> That is what we discover in Paul…
Paul is sharing the most personal expression of a life who engaged the risen Christ… and who
was changed… and is now living out the reality.
This section began with his accounting of what mattered… … he was able to really assess
all he had put confidence in… concludes that knowing Christ who holds the power of eternal
risen life… and even to share in his sufferings as part of knowing him… was the greatest
purpose and pleasure life offered.
For some of us this may sound fanatical… he may sound like the first ‘Jesus freak’ and for
some that raises mixed feeling. But I think the discomfort with a fanatic is generally because of
two things… the feeling that they aren’t able to deal with everyday responsibility… and Paul
chooses to be a tentmaker… so he is not saying nothing else matters… and more importantly…
we may feel someone is being impulsive. While such can come with a shallowness… Paul had
evaluated deeply… so he was devoted deeply. This is not a life off center… but actually a call
to become centered.
Now he states…
Philippians 3:12 – 21
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on
to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself
yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward
what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me
heavenward in Christ Jesus.
All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think
differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already
Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live
according to the pattern we gave you. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now say again
even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their
god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. 20 But
our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21
who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our
lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
> Life of extraordinary devotion.. focus…determination…resolution… VITALITY.
Keys to spiritual vitality… (a life well centered / a life of focused devotion…)
1. Concentration - Embrace the call of Christ as a defining pursuit
Spend so much of lives wondering what is worthwhile… drawn to so much that seeks to draw
us into it’s merits… people, products, etc.
> Paul is a liberated man… most free because he has one overriding devotion / focus.
Paul says vitality flows from purpose… if the purpose and only one purpose will offer
lasting vitality… to know Christ… to become like him…
And it doesn’t center around us & OUR needs, OUR family, OUR personal fulfillment. It
centers around Jesus Christ.
Not that this ‘one thing’ denies all other matters of life… but that it DEFINES all other
· taking care of our families,
· taking care of our needs
· having various earthly ambitions and accomplishments…
As good and worthy as these aspects of our lives may be – they are not what should ultimately
motivate us. Those goals are NOT BIG ENOUGH for us.
“PURSUIT”… critical to understand
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press
• Live with a healthy humility that is neither presumptuous nor passive in it’s devotion
• Not presumptuous because he isn’t trying to be as good or better than others… but to be
• Nor passive… because he sees goal
• Man in motion… ‘but I press on’
• Paul was a one-track man, but ‘you can go a long way on one track!
• He says that he is trying to grasp that for which he has been grasped by Christ. That is a