Summary: #4 of a 6 part summer series from the Book of Philippians on how we are free in Christ
“FREE TO SUCCEED”
Freedom Series - Week 4
The story is told of a man who requested in his will to be buried in a very unusual way. When he died, he wanted everyone to look upon him as successful, so he asked that after his death his body be placed propped behind the wheel of a brand new pink Cadillac, and to have a smile on his face and an expensive cigar in his mouth. As bizarre as the request was, it was granted. After the burial service the old grave digger came to cover up the grave. He was astounded at what he saw! He looked down and saw that man propped behind the wheel of that new caddy, he saw the embalmer’s formed smile on the dead mans face, he saw that stogey stuck in his mouth.. He walked around that grave several times just marveling and finally he clapped his hands and said, "Man, that’s really living!"
Now, that’s an old illustration and one that I’m sure is NOT true. But I do know that there is truth in the fact that many people possess the wrong idea of success. So many folks look at the things a person owns, or the status or prestige they control, or the power that they wield and think, "Man, that’s really living!" But we all know people who have almost everything the world has to offer and yet are miserable. There are all kinds of books that have been written about how to be successful but many of the authors have no actual track record for real contentment. Like the author that wrote the book, How To Live to be 100, and died at 69. As, Christians we need to realize that success, true success, comes from the inner life not the outer. Our spiritual lives must be in tune or our lives in general will not exhibit lasting harmony. What we need is a model of someone who was truly successful in life, one who was full of peace and joy no matter what external circumstances would bring. Because the truth is, we learn a lot more from models than we do manuals. The apostle Paul was certainly one of the most successful followers of Jesus Christ. He said in 1 Cor. 11:1 "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." In vs:17 of our text- "Join with others in following my example.." So, let’s study Paul’s plan and listen carefully as he gives us 4 keys for successful living.
I. THE PRINCIPLE OF EVALUATION: Vss:12-13a, 18-19, 4:1b-3
The first step in living successfully from God’s perspective is the principle of evaluation. In vs: 12 Paul says something that we can all identify with. In vs:11 he talks about being like Christ and then says, “Not that I have already obtained all this, (being like Christ) or have already been made perfect...” In other words he is not perfect and we would have the same evaluation would we not? We often say it this way, “Nobody’s perfect.” We might smile at the simplicity of that but I see so many people today who are unhappy or unsatisfied with their life and many times it is because they are caught up in the "perfectionist syndrome." They just are not satisfied if they are not doing the perfect job, living with the perfect family or making perfect decisions. As we talked about two weeks ago there are many who can get emotionally "in the pits" because they fail. Guilt from failure becomes such a heavy load it steals their joy. Please understand that Paul’s relationship, my relationship and your relationship to God is not based on our own perfection. And so Paul gives us the principle of evaluation and basically says, "don’t get angry over your failures but simply face your faults honestly and grow from them.” You see, we need to admit the fact that we fail, but instead of allowing that to steal our joy, we need to allow the principle of evaluation help us make progress. That’s what Paul says in vss:12-13- "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it." The Good New version translates that 12th verse: "I don’t claim that I have already succeeded or become perfect.." That’s an amazing statement from this man. Paul has lived a faithful life, he has written most of the NT, he is the greatest church planter in history and yet, here he is at the end of his life saying: "Hey, I haven’t arrived yet. I don’t live by perfection, that will come only in heaven. For now I live by progress, I’m still growing."