Summary: A sermon on striving for excellence from Philippians 3:12-16

Final Sermon for Vinton on 7/21/2002

Philippians 3:12-16

Never give up!


I read that it took Winston Churchill three years to get through the eighth grade because he had trouble learning English. In kind of an ironic twist, years later in the midst of World War II Oxford University asked then Prime Minister Churchill to address its commencement exercises. Dressed in his finest suit, he arrived at the auditorium where the service was to be held with his usual props, a cigar, a cane and a top hat. As Churchill approached the podium, the crowd rose in appreciative applause. Standing there looking very dignified, he settled the crowd down and asked them to be seated.

Standing confidently before this crowd of great admirers, he removed his cigar and placed his top hat on the podium. Then Churchill gazed at his waiting audience that included some of the most noted scholars in the world. With an authoritative tone in his voice he began with three words: “Never give up!” Several seconds passed without him saying another word. Finally he repeated those same three words again, “Never give up!” There was a deafening silence as Churchill reached for his hat and cigar, steadied himself with his cane and left the platform. His commencement address was finished.


A. This section of Scripture can be summed up by, Never Give Up!

B. We are not perfect; we need to strive toward that goal of being more like Christ.

C. Is our spiritual life all that we want it to be?

D. Is our family life all that we want it to be?

E. Is our workplace all that we want it to be?

F. Is our church all that we want it to be?

G. Is our community all that we want it to be?

H. Is our nation all that we want it to be?

I. Even if we consider something as going well, there is always room for improvement.

J. Nothing is perfect in this world, so why try? It’s impossible.

K. Plato thought that there was another world, the world he called Forms that was a perfect world.

L. We have a perfect world and that world is heaven. As Christian people we are going there, so why try? Why try to make the world better?

M. Why not try? Why were we put on this world?

N. If God has laid hold of us, we need to press on. What would God have us to do?

O. This text is a great passage for self-inventory. Are we moving up and are we getting better and are we helping to make this world a better place?

P. WE know how telephone conversations are; we usually hear only one side of the conversation. A young boy was talking and his father was listening, "Hello, sir, I was calling you to see if you could use a lawn boy to do your yard work!" "Oh, I see you already have one!" "Well, is he doing your work to your satisfaction?" "He is! Thank you, sir, I was just checking," then the young boy hung up the phone. The father looked at his son and said, "Sorry son, you didn’t get the job!" "Oh, no sir," said the boy. "I’ve already got that job. I was just calling to check up on myself!"

Q. May this passage this morning help us to check up on ourselves?

Thesis: This morning we are going to look at Philippians 3:12-16 and see how we can press on toward perfection.

For instances:

I. Forget what is behind (13)

A. We are not in heaven yet. The race is still going on. When the race is over then we can look back.

B. Luke 9:62- No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of heaven.

C. Those who look back do not make good rows; those who look back do not do well in the race. Slacken the pace, start to drop out.

D. Do not dwell on the past.

1. Mistakes- learn from them.

2. Sins- guilt.

3. Successes- some successes here. Grown from 100 to about 170.

E. Paul did not do this. He had a lot of success. He had a lot of sins. He had a lot of mistakes.

F. We will make a mistake.

G. We will never compare to that time…?

H. We need to continue to strive for excellence in the present.

I. Older Christians have a problem with this. Hinder progress. Need to learn but we do not need to dwell in the past. The past is the past; we live in the present. Seize the day!

J. WE are not completed. Much more of life.

K. Need to forget the past. Not in this way. Tell of man trying to remember restaurant name and asks about a rose?

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