by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Text: Philippians 3:8-17
I. What is your goal in life?
A. Life is short. You don’t have time to accomplish everything that is available to you, so what do you desire most to obtain?
B. For Paul it was to be like Christ and obtain heaven - Philippians 3:8-11
1. The design of the church is to cause us to grow up to be like Christ - Ephesians 4:11-16
2. Stability only comes by growth - II Peter 3:17-18
II. Face the tests - Philippians 3:10
A. But how do we know that we are on the right track? How do we know we are making progress?
B. Imagine taking a class where for the whole year you never had homework, quizzes, or tests. Nothing was required of you until the final. Then your entire grade was based on that final test.
C. Sounded pretty good until I mentioned the final, huh?
1. A whole years worth of effort based on just one grade?
2. How would I know if I’m learning? What if I thought I understood something, but didn’t? You mean I wouldn’t find out until it was too late to do anything about it?
D. Oh, so those homework assignments, quizzes, and tests have a purpose!
1. They provide us early feedback so we know how well we are doing, giving us time to make course corrections in advance if necessary.
E. How do I know I’m on track for reaching heaven? Will I pass the judgment? The only way we will know is by the tests we have in life.
1. James 1:2-4
a. You mean homework, quizzes, and test are not miseries?
b. You mean trials in life are not miseries, but a cause of joy?
c. Why? Because they change us and give us chances to make changes - James 1:5
d. How did you learn you lacked wisdom?
2. James 1:12 - Then we when we reach the end, then we know!
3. II Corinthians 13:5 - Not only externally, but internally as well.
F. You see, tests force us to apply what we have learned
1. Too many try to drift through life. They never grow up.
2. They rightly should be scolded - Hebrews 5:12-14
III. Realize we aren’t there yet - Philippians 3:12-13
A. Few things are more frustrating to a teacher than a student who is confident that they already know the lesson.
1. You know that student will not learn much because they are not looking to gain
2. But then, have you met the Christian who tells you that you can’t teach them anything?
B. A mature Christian understands that the goal is to be like Christ - I Corinthians 11:1
1. In essence Paul is saying, “Follow me because I’m trying to catch up with Jesus and he’s way ahead of us.”
2. Every disciple should desire to be like the Teacher - Matthew 10:25
3. Recall that we are striving toward the measure of Christ - Ephesians 4:13
4. Now is there any subject, any topic, to which I can say that my understanding is equal to Christ’s?
C. The mature Christian’s standard is Christ, the immature uses standards easier to reach – brethren, or even himself.
1. “Hey! If I’m the goal, well, I’ve made it!”
2. In any group, I can always find someone worse than I am.
3. How far would that take you in a class? How far will it take you before God?
4. The mature Christian knows that as far as I may have gotten to this point, I still have a long ways to go.
D. Jesus set the pattern - I John 2:6
1. So when I’m faced with temptation, I should answer with Scripture, just as He did - Matthew 4:1-11
2. When someone does me wrong, I should return good for evil, just as He did - I Peter 2:23
3. When someone is in need, I should show compassion, just as He did - Matthew 14:14
4. In everything, we follow the Lord, realizing that even at our best, we haven’t attained all that we could be.
IV. Forget the past - Philippians 3:13
A. A mature Christian doesn’t dwell on the past – good or bad
B. I could look back at all my mistakes, all my sins, and wallow in remorse and self-pity
1. We all have sinned - Romans 3:23
2. If I stay in the past, I am destroyed - Galatians 2:17-18
C. I could look back at all the good I have done and think that it is good enough
1. Our focus must be on what good can I do, not what good I have done - Luke 17:10
2. We must forget about the people we have taught, the number baptized, the sermons taught, the classes presented, the services attended, or any other work we have done, because what matters is what are we doing today.
3. What if today we leave what is right? - Ezekiel 18:24
V. Reach for the future - Philippians 3:13-14
A. Maturing means applying ourselves with effort - II Timothy 2:15
B. I don’t want to be a baby all my life - I Peter 2:2-3
C. It means always working because it has purpose - I Corinthians 15:58
D. It means not getting tired - Galatians 6:9-10
E. There is a goal to be reached and it is not here on earth - Colossians 3:1-4
F. God rewards those who diligently seek Him - Hebrews 11:6
G. No matter what level we have obtained, there is always more that we could do, there is more that we can learn - I Thessalonians 4:1,10
H. To the mature Christian, nothing will stand in his way - II Corinthians 4:17-18
1. Thus we do not walk by sight - II Corinthians 5:6-9
VI. Let the mature have this mind - Philippians 3:15
based on “Marks of Maturity” by Steven Harper