There is so much in these few verses! I love this passage of Scripture!
First, Paul lets us know that he is not perfect! Of all the spiritual people and heroes in the Bible, you would think at least one of them (other than Jesus) would claim to be perfect, right? But Paul, even after laying out his credentials in the verses we read yesterday (v.4-7), realized that God was not done making him more and more like Jesus. Paul doesn’t count on his own righteousness, but knows he is righteous through faith in Christ (v. 9).
Paul is righteous before God, but not yet perfect. Paul is living in the tension that we all experience once we become Christians—that we have been made right before God, but don’t always do the right thing. We have been forgiven, yet we still sin. We have right standing with God through faith in Jesus, but don’t obey the God who has forgiven us.
So what should we do? Paul gives us a clue. Even though Paul is still a sinner (just like you), he presses “on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Paul says, “I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.” This perfection that Paul mentions can also be translated as completion.
Paul is telling the Philippians that he is not yet complete and God isn’t finished growing him, but he is pressing on toward the end of the race, the end of his life, when he will receive the heavenly prize, life forever with God.
Second, Paul tells the Philippians to imitate him. Paul knows that while he isn’t complete, he is mature. God isn’t quite done making Paul into who He wants Paul to be, but he sure has brought Paul a long way.
This is a great picture of what it looks like to be in a discipleship relationship – where one person shows another person what it looks like to follow Jesus. No one in our church is perfect, but there are many people in our church that God has grown to a point where we should imitate them and even ask them to teach us.
This passage reminds me of our mission as a church: to take everyone we meet one step closer to becoming a true disciple of Jesus Christ. There is always a “next step” that you can take to becoming a true disciple, someone who is “complete.”
Is your next step to find someone in our church to disciple you?
Is your next step to find someone to disciple?
Let us know if that is your next step, and we would love to get you paired with someone!
By: Lucas Taylor — West Campus Ministry Apprentice