Summary: Most people never discover the true purpose for their lives. In the text. Philippians 3:12-14. we have a revelation of what life is all about. This message examines 4 points of understanding that undergirds a meaningful Christian life.
We are progressing in a study of Philippians; our text today is in chapter 3. In this chapter we are given a revelation of what life is all about. Sadly, most people never discover the true purpose of their lives. In fact, most Christians never grasp it. They often pursue the same goals that the world pursues.i Pleasure, power, and possessions head up the list of worldly goals that can capture a person’s attention. When that happens, they are sidetracked and fail to fulfill God’s design for their lives. The honest epitaph of the life is: what might have been.ii
In chapter 2 Paul used Jesus’s life as an example of how life is to be lived. Here in chapter 3 under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he offers himself as an example. He shares this so the Philippian Christians can get the right mindset about their own lives.iii God offers this in Scripture so that you and I can understand His purpose for our lives and reach the goal He has for each of us.
As we read today’s text, ask yourself two simple questions: (1) What am I living for? and (2) How am I pursuing that purpose? I am reading Philippians 3:12-14 from the New International Version.
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, 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.”iv
Notice I. Paul understood that God had laid hold of his life for a PURPOSE.
God had something amazing in mind when He saved Paul. It was more than an escape from hell. It was more than a ticket to heaven wonderful as that is. God also has an amazing purpose in mind for you. That’s what we want to talk about this morning.
We know from Scripture that God is the initiator of all this. The object Paul is pursuing in life is according to verse 12 is: “that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” In order to live the kind of life Paul lived, we must know what “that” is for our own lives. What is “that for which Christ Jesus took hold of you?
On the road to Damascus the risen Christ took hold of Paul’s life (Acts 9). Jesus captured Paul’s heart and turned his life around. On that day Paul became a part of the family of God. On that day Paul became a new creature in Christ—old things passed away; all things became new.v From that day forward Paul considered himself a servant of Jesus Christ.vi
God initiated this change in Paul. Paul did not find the Lord, although in his own way he was groping around in the dark looking for Him.vii If you know the Lord, it is because He set His love on you while you were still a sinner. Even before the foundation of the world, He saw you and loved you and planned your salvation.viii From our limited perspective we may say, “I found the Lord.” But you would have never found Him if He had not first found you and revealed Himself to you. “Salvation is of the Lord.”ix Your salvation was in the heart of God long before you were born. He initiated the whole thing.
And because it is His idea, we must embrace HIS purpose for us. It not our prerogative to invent the purpose. We do not have enough information or wisdom to do that. His purpose for you is created out of infinite love and wisdom. There could be no better purpose than the one God has designed for you.
On the one hand, it is consistent with His purpose for other believers as well. On the other hand, it is uniquely designed with you in mind. As humans we all look a lot alike. We all have two eyes, a nose, and a mouth on our face. We all have two arms, two legs, and ten toes. On the other hand, your DNA is distinct. Your fingerprints are unique. God’s plan for you fits into His plan for the Body of Christ. But you have a special place in that Body. You are uniquely equipped to fulfill a particular function. To understand God’s purpose for you, you must see the uniqueness of it and the way it fits with the Body as a whole.x Most importantly, you must not try to create your purpose. You discover your purpose by walking with God and letting Him lead you into it.