In first Philippians, Paul writes to the Church of Philippi with love and adoration, he tells them that they have done well in maintaining the good work of Christ Jesus; these people for the most part were not struggling with large issues such a deceit, sexual immorality and false teachings in the church. This is a fairly successful church, that has kept on the right track. However, Paul reminds the church to press towards the prize of Christ, the eternal calling of God rather than the earthly success of the church or personal success, whatever was keeping their eyes diverted from Christ.
“13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.” Philippians 3:13-15 (KJV)
It can be easy to recognize things that are overtly contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ, we know the ten commandments, those are the things that keep us away from God. So, we’re good right?
It’s not so simple. Paul lets us know in verse fifteen that even those who seem to ‘have it in the bag’ so to speak (some translations say those who are mature), that God will reveal any thing that causes them to divert their attention away from the prize of Christ. In my life, this would be my habits, daily rituals, my ‘me time’, and my comfort.
The interesting thing is, God doesn’t call us to be creatures of habit, but creatures of HIS calling. It’s okay to be organized, to have a plan, but once these routines become something that keeps us away from God… that’s when the devil wins. This is something I had a hard time understanding until recently. I realized that just because I wasn’t “sinning” didn’t mean that I was glorifying God. And in not glorifying God, Satan is, by default, favored. What does this look like? When God calls you to stop and pray for someone, but it doesn’t quite fit into the daily routine, or when you know you need to give someone a call but you just know they’re going to take time away from your tasks, the devil wins. When we let our habits and routines get in the way of what God is asking of you, love loses.
I am the first one to admit guilt of this, I get so wrapped up in my own tasks, feeling successful and accomplished that I forget to listen to where God is leading me. But in doing this I miss out on valuable moments where God could have used me in someone’s life or where someone could have spoken into my life. I often miss the mark in striving for God’s eternal calling for my life.
But why do we do this? Why is it so easy for our hearts and minds to wander?
We put too much stalk in our flesh. Our successes, our daily habits, our routine, what we seem to accomplish on our own. All of these things have more weight than they should.
For the last three months I have been in my home for the summer. To keep myself busy I took a summer class at a local JC, worked a ton, spent time with friends and family, did anything I could to keep myself occupied. Everything was positive, and everything benefitted my life in some way; I felt accomplished and successful! I was living life like a real adult.
But I forgot something key, I forgot to intentionally listen to where God was calling me. I often chose Netflix over God’s word in my down time. I forgot my true calling and what I am really striving for, because I was so caught up in my earthly success. But Paul reminds us that we are to count ALL things as loss, because they are nothing compared to Christ. Paul even goes as far as to say they are garbage! They are disposable, and fleeting, but Christ lasts forever. Christ is the only thing truly worth striving for.
“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”
Philippians 3:7-9 (NIV)
This is not to say that success is bad, that having a routine is a negative thing, but that separation from God leads us down a path that is full of loss. And no matter how much we accomplish it is pointless without the cause of Christ at the center of it. So, closing thoughts: listen to where God is leading you, act on God’s calling, and love regardless of how it may interrupt your routine.
Lord thank you for the ways you have blessed me this summer and in my life as a whole. But I have fallen short in keeping my eyes on you. I have focused my life on loss rather than eternity and your callings for my life. God help me to recalibrate my focus on you, remind me to count all things apart from you as loss and to not put so much stalk in earthly gains. Lord humble me and use me to bring glory to you. Bring me out of my comfort zone, and rather than making time for you, let me be found in you and make time for the other things. Lord help me to be a creature of your calling. I love you Lord.