Live It Out and Live up to It
Read Philippians 3:15-16 (NIV)
All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
What have believers in Jesus Christ already attained?
For many years, I pressed on to receive the scholarly prizes of degrees in Christian Apologetics and Biblical and Theological studies. I worked hard to be able to claim the titles of “Pastor and Christian Apologist” and now I have them. So now what? I guess I could just put my feet up and coast until I die but then what would be the point of earning those degrees? Why did I go to school at all if I don’t plan on living up to my profession? I went to school so that I could be something, not just get something.
In today’s verse, Paul reminded the Philippians that if they are mature believers, they will agree with what Paul has previously said. So let’s recap. So far, in Philippians 3, Paul reminded the Philippians to rejoice in the Lord. He warned them not to place their confidence in the flesh or listen to those who taught such things. He renounced his spiritual and ethnic privileges as Jew and a Pharisee and regarded them as rubbish compared with knowing Jesus. He reminded them that their righteousness does not come from themselves but from Christ. He acknowledged that none of us are perfect yet. Still, he urged them to keep on pursuing Christlikeness because we are looking forward to the promised reward of perfection and eternity with Him.
These are things that a mature believer should affirm. If not, Paul is confident that God will enlighten them and help them understand more as their faith progresses. But this is of utmost importance: “Let us live up to what we have already attained.” What have we already attained?
Those of us who are believers in Jesus Christ have already obtained our salvation. We have sins that are forgiven, His righteousness, and the promise of a glorious future in His presence. We are already citizens of His kingdom. John says we have even been bestowed a title: “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1). We didn’t have to work to attain the title of “Child of God,” it was given to us as a gift of God’s love through Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf.
But now that we have it, what should we do? Paul says we should live it out and live up to it. Just as I am living out my roles as pastor and apologist, I am also living out my role as a Christian. We aren’t Christians just because of what we have in Him. We are Christians because that is what we are. It is what He made us. What a tragedy it would be if we only accepted Christ to punch our one-way ticket to Heaven but failed to live as those who bear His Name.
Friends, if you are a Christian, you bear His Name! So live out your faith and seek to live up to your title. Live a life that represents Him well.
Jesus, thank You for lavishing Your great love on me so that I can be called a “Child of God.” I want to live up to the standard of bearing Your Name. Help me to keep growing and maturing spiritually. Sanctify me and make me more and more like You each day. Amen.