Summary: As we enter a New Year lets pause and think about some keys to successful living; Evaluation, Elimination, Concentration and Determination.
NEW YEAR – NEW YOU
An elderly man moved into a retirement community. It wasn’t long until he had made a number of friends among the other residents. There was one lady he was especially attracted to and she was attracted to him, also. They spent a lot of time together. Finally one evening he proposed, asking her to marry him. The next morning he woke up remembering his proposal, but he couldn’t remember her answer. So he went to her & said, "I’m really embarrassed to admit this, but I know I proposed to you last night but I can’t remember if you said `Yes’ or `No."’ "Oh, thank goodness!" she replied. "I remembered saying ‘Yes’ to someone last night but I couldn’t remember who asked me."
Do you ever feel that way when it comes to New Years resolutions? The New Year is a time to reflect and do a course correction. It is often a time when people make decisions and turn over a new leaf. Maybe they decide they are going to exercise regularly & lose weight. They are going to do all kinds of things to improve themselves physically & spiritually. The problem is too soon we forget and slip back into old habits and patterns. As we start this new year let me suggest to you the attitude you should have:
Phil 3:10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.12 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.
In Philippians 3 Paul writes about how to succeed in life. There are lots of books today on success. Everyone thinks they have the key to making life fulfilling and solving all life’s problems. The ironic thing is that many books on success are written by unsuccessful people. They have no real experience - they just wrote a book! When I want to learn about success, I want somebody who's done it. I want to look at somebody who has accomplished what I want to accomplish. We learn much more about success -- life -- from models than we do from manuals.
Jesus is our ultimate model. Next to Him, one of the most influential Christians who ever lived would have to be Paul. He was an man who lived life to the fullest. In Philippians 3 we have Paul's autobiography. The first part of the chapter talks about his past. Here he talks about his present and future. Let’s look at the example of Paul. In this passage he briefly explains four keys to successful living.
1. EVALUATION (vs. 13a) – consider myself
Successful living starts in admitting that you don't have it all together, that you still have a long way to go and grow, that you haven't arrived yet, you're not perfect. You do an inventory of your life. You've got to know where you are before you know where you want to go. You start by looking at where are the areas that need improvement.
In verse 13 Paul says “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.”
Paul himself was honest about his faults and aware of his weaknesses. In the Good News translation this verse reads "I don't claim that I have already succeeded or become perfect."
To me, that's an amazing statement. Paul is an old man now. If anybody had the right to claim he had arrived it would be Paul. He wrote most of the New Testament. He single handedly spread Christianity throughout the Roman Empire. He made an incredible impact on the world. Yet Paul, at the end of his life, says "I don't have it all together. I haven't arrived. I'm not perfect. I'm still growing." The point is that successful people never stop growing. They are always developing, growing, expanding, learning.
That is so contrary to people today. Many Christians will give you the impression that they never have any problems. They have somehow arrived at sinless perfection. They have no problems or doubts! The longer I grow as a Christian the more acutely aware that I am of my own inadequacies, limitations, weaknesses and faults. Rather than saying "Look how far I've come," I have to say, "Look how far I have to go!" Paul says this is the starting point for successful living -- to face your faults, be honest, do an evaluation.