Summary: Christ allows us to forget our past.
PURSUING THE PRIZE
By Cleavon Matthews
December 28, 2008
Paul pens this epistle while imprisoned. He was apprehended and arrested for preaching Christ. Paul writes out of concern for Epaphraditus. This is one of four prison epistles written at this time. However, none of them is as personal in nature as the letter to the Philippians. The epistle is also rich in theological prowess. The exhortations are excellent. The cautions are clear. The admonishments are awesome. The rebukes are sharp. The praises are poignant.
The movement of the epistle has been both subtle and deliberate. The apostle is moving toward a predetermined goal. He is setting the stage for a spectacular statement. He begins with praise, prayer, and thanksgiving. He verbalizes his love, devotion, and appreciation for the Philippians. More than anything, he wants them to abound in love, approve the right things, be without offense on the day of Christ, and to be filled with the fruits of righteousness.
Furthermore, Paul does not want them to be overly concerned with the present circumstances of his imprisonment or those who are attacking them. He expects release and vindication. Nevertheless, he wants everyone to know he is not ashamed of the Gospel. Either way it goes, he is a winner. After all the Philippians, still need him. He only asks that they stand together, strive together, and suffer together. This leads Paul to speak concerning the necessity of selfless behavior and he provides three examples of selflessness that is Christ, Timothy, and Epaphraditus!
After setting the stage for the return of Epaphraditus to Philippi, Paul now sets the stage for his second major reason for writing which is the ongoing conflict between two sisters in the Church Euodia and Syntyche. Paul gives a wise warning concerning those who would attempt to circumvent the Gospel. This leads to Paul’s personal example of true confidence. Paul says although he would have more reason than anyone to have confidence in the flesh would; he will not and cannot because everything outside of Christ is dung or rubbish!
Paul fears being covered in the nakedness of his own righteousness. His overwhelming desire is to be found in Christ. He seeks righteousness in Christ through faith. Paul seeks this and exhorts all to do the same. Paul expresses righteousness as knowing Christ, the power of His resurrection, the fellowship of His sufferings, and being conformed to His death. Paul’s hope is bodily resurrection from the dead. This brings us to our text. Paul has not yet received what he longs to experience. He does not completely know Christ in this fashion and he has not yet received the resurrection from the dead.
I.FOLLOWING THE PRIZE
Philippians 3:12 “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.”
Paul has a goal. He is determined to satisfy this ambition. His goal is not physical. His goal is not health and wealth. His goal is not materialistic. His goal is neither political nor occupational. Although there is nothing inherently, wrong with having these secondary objectives.
All of us should have some…
However, as it concerns Paul, his goal was not a beachfront property. His goal was not early retirement. His goal was not a PhD. His goal was not a perfect family. He was not after fame or fortune. He refused to major in the minors and minor in the majors. Paul’s desire was an echo of Christ, “But seeks first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt 6:33).
Following the prize requires the proper mentality. You can’t allow TI, Ludicrous, Chris Brown, and Lil Wayne to shape your mentality. You must have a ‘transformed’ and ‘renewed’ mind. Your mind can’t be clouded by the philosophy and ideology of the Talk Shows and Soap Operas. There are enemies of the cross of Christ (Philippians 3:18). There end is destruction, their god is their belly (appetite), their glory is in their shame, they set their mind on earthly things (3:19).
The believer’s mind must be set on things above (Col 3:1). Our minds must be set on heaven. Our citizenship is in heaven (Phil 3:20). Paul has a lot to say about the mind in this epistle. We should have one mind (1:27). We should let the mind of Christ be in us (2:5), and the Lord will guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (4:7). But in order for our minds to be set properly, we must have the right thoughts. “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things” (4:8).