How to Not Settle for Less

John Hill 

"Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own."  Philippians 3:8-12

June has traditionally been a month for weddings and graduations. Both appropriately represent rites of passage and new starts filled with hope and joy. Yet, later in life both can also be a source of grave pain as they can also represent the fact that the best days of our lives are behind us and that we can find ourselves pining for the ‘good ‘ole days’ while grinding through the mundane. First days, then weeks, then years can pass without any new challenges or growth. We all know the guy who still tells stories about his glory days in high school, or the girl who laments the dreams she once had that are now gone because she has a family to raise.

So what’s the difference between staying in that place where our best days are in front of us and slipping into the rut of yesteryear? According to Paul, the difference is our pursuit of Christ.

Paul had lots to brag about regarding his past: he was well-educated, traveled amongst the most respected religious leaders, had ethnic purity, and in some ways considered himself superior. Paul also had much for which to be ashamed: he was a murderer and someone who tried to stop the movement of the gospel at one time. But that was his old life. A life he considered “as loss” compared to the “worth of knowing Christ.” In other words, his eyes were faced forward to what was in front of him, not glued to the past wishing things were ‘the way they used to be’ or anchored down by the consequences of bad decisions.

So what about you? Will you let the big moments of your past be your last? Or will you concentrate on what lies ahead? Will you let the failures and betrayals behind stop you from realizing what is before you? In both cases, the point of life in Christ is to move forward because God has better days ahead.

Note Paul’s insistence that he has not “already obtained this or am already perfect,” indicating the need to be consistent in pursuing a relationship with God. Just as with human relationships, communication and time spent is key, so also with God it is imperative that we never settle for lapses in our time with God. Why? The simple answer is that there is nothing sweeter than fellowship with the Father and learning how to know and love Him more.

The way we grow in our relationship with God? By learning how to trust Him more through learning His word and applying it, by joining with other believers in smaller groups to do life together, by leveraging our circumstances as opportunities to find God moments, by employing spiritual disciplines like prayer and worship, and finally by serving God in ministry. In other words, we grow in our relationship with God by committing to a process for spiritual growth. As we commit to these things, they do not on their own grow us, but they put us in a place where God meets us and, in that meeting with God, we grow.

So don’t settle for yesteryear, or let the past steal your future. Instead, look ahead and press forward because God has great days waiting for you…if you let Him lead you there.

 

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