Summary: Sometimes we give up to easily. Paul provides a great example of what every Christian should be doing - Straining ’till the End!
Straining ‘till the End
Introduction – 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.
I think the apostle Paul knew the importance of never giving up as well when he, using his own life as an example, encouraged the church to “strain toward what is ahead.” (3:13) This morning I want you to know that the message hasn’t changed, and that the need hasn’t lessened, so when then need to be encouraging each other to never give up in our efforts win the lost to Jesus, and never give up in our prayers that the power of God to rain down upon us again.
Using Paul’s message to the church as our guide, let’s see if we can’t accomplish several things. First let’s try to identify the motivation for living consistent Christian lives. Next, let’s ask ourselves how well do we really know Christ. Finally, let’s see what it will take from each of us if we are to be found straining forward until the very end.
I. Everything is not Enough
I have to admit that I am somewhat fascinated by the super rich. Probably all of us, at one time or another have at least wondered what it would be like to have more money then we could ever spend. Michael Jordan since his retirement from basketball still makes $40,000,000 each year in endorsements. That’s $178,000 a day every single day. He still has to pay $7.00 to go the movie just like the rest of us, the difference is he is making about $18,500 while he is there. And if his wife cooks him a three-minute egg, it still takes three minutes but he will make $618 while it’s boiling. He has everything—yet everything is not enough.
Paul had everything his world could offer as well. Look at what he told the Philippian church that he had.
1. A pedigree – His was without peer. You talk about coming from the right people, you would have a hard time topping Paul.
2. A religion – He was one of the brightest young scholars his world had seen.
3. Paul was definitely on the fast track to success...nothing could stop him...that is until he came to understand that everything is never going to be enough.
In the world we use things to motivate us. We’re motivated to work hard in our jobs because we want to
provide the best for our families. There is nothing wrong with that kind of motivation, except
that it is often incompatible with the workings of God.
Pastor’s shouldn’t be motivated to lead their church to grow, so they will have an opportunity to go to a larger church. Christian lay men and women should not be motivated to serve in their church in order to receive the platitudes of men. Our motivation should be much more than that, because if it’s not we will soon lose our motivation completely.
The story is told of man who stopped by his pastor office one day to inform the pastor that he would not be at church any more. He gave a long list of things he didn’t like while the pastor listened quietly. After he was done, the preacher expressed his concern but never tried to talk him out of his decision.
As he was getting ready to leave the pastor asked a favor. It seems that one of the Senior Adult ladies was having some difficulty paying for some medicine she needed, and a church member who was aware of that gave the preacher $50 to give to the elderly woman. The pastor had delivered it yet, and asked this man if he would drop it by. He agreed and left.