Are you laying hold of all that Jesus laid hold of you!? Apostle Paul shows us how to do it. He is a good model of someone who continually fought the good fight! His life is a testimony of longevity and success in fighting the good fight of faith!
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. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14
Although Paul had accomplished much in his ministry, he knew that he needed to continue to press on and lay hold of God! The above scriptures give us insight on how he persevered and continued to advance in God’s purpose!
Paul did not think that he had attained everything or had arrived spiritually. He did not see himself as a completely perfected believer. Instead, he saw himself as one who was still on his way to perfection. This reminds me of what Paul wrote in 1Corinthians 13.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. 1 Corinthians 13:9-12
Paul likened his walk to a child and saw himself putting childish things away as he matured. Even though he had put childish ways aside, he still only saw in the mirror dimly. He did not assume that he saw everything clearly. Paul had a correct evaluation of his maturity in the Lord. He did not confuse his success in ministry with perfection in the faith. He also was not deceived with the fact that just because the Lord had given him revelation and insight in the spiritual realm, that it meant that he knew all there was about the Kingdom of God! This humility and correct evaluation of his walk allowed him to remain dependent on the Lord and keep pressing on!
Similarly, we may have impressive ministry in preaching, prophecy, or writing, but none of those should make us think that we have arrived! The Lord graciously gives us insight, revelation, and understanding, but what He shows us, is minute in comparison to the magnificence of God and His total plan for the humanity. Recognizing our dependence on the Lord will cause us to continue to press on and not get complacent or lazy.
In the above passage in Philippians, Paul continued by stating that as he pressed on, he forgot what was behind him! He did not look back! Paul’s past was a mixture of worldly success and failure since he had persecuted the church. If Paul had looked back at his life, he could have been trapped by the guilt and shame of the past and what he did to the innocent believers such as Stephen. On the other hand, he may have missed the prestige and the status he used to have among his counterparts. Looking back would not have produced any good fruit, and it would have only trapped him in the past and derailed him from pressing on and moving forward in God’s purpose.
The only benefit of looking back is when we remind ourselves of God’s loving kindness and His deliverance in our lives. Otherwise, the past can trap us. Some people stay stuck in “the good old days”, which causes them to want to be focused on the past. Others may be burdened by the pain of the past. Neither of those memories produce any good fruit.
Instead of looking at the past, we need to focus on the fact that God’s mercies are new every morning. Everyday is a fresh new day with new possibilities and new mercies. God is always at work, and He has new opportunities, new encounters, and new revelation. The Lord is never done with His work on the earth, and He chooses to use us in partnering with Him in bringing His Kingdom and His will on the earth. That requires all of us to press on and to lay hold of what Jesus laid hold of us! This is fighting the good fight of faith!
How do you perceive your spiritual maturity? Do you find yourself leaning on your laurels from past accomplishments? Are there things from the past that causes you not to press into the Kingdom of God?Do you continue to press on towards God, so you can lay hold of what Jesus laid hold of you?