“….I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you. But we must hold on to the progress we have already made.” 3:13-16
I like this. I feel encouraged to strive for a godly character, but not shamed for the ways I fall short. I’m reminded to look back on my past, but not dwell on it. To let go and instead cling to the progress I have already made.
I also appreciate the patience in Paul’s words when he says he’s going to rely on the Holy Spirit to make things clear to people. He doesn’t suggest jumping on social media and debating the fine print of Christianity, but seems to shrug it off and trust God. People do not convince people. I’ve never seen anyone be talked or shamed into conviction or changing their mind. (If you have, teach me your ways.) God uses people and speaks through them, sure. But it’s the Holy Spirit alone that changes, and I often seem to forget that.
Chapter 4 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible and I’ve often tried to memorize it. Paul’s writing voice is such a great reminder to be encouraging when speaking to other believers and above all else: rejoice in the Lord. There are many terrible things to dwell on and plenty of arguments to have, but let’s “fix our thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. “