Paul is calling the Church to live like Jesus did, but not of human effort as if we are building a list of all the good things we have done FOR God. He is calling us to get to know Christ and let the Spirit do a work in us that produces fruit. It’s not about our attempts at living right but about God’s righteousness living through us.
Paul does not claim to be perfect, or to always get everything right, but he does encourage Christians to look at the example of his life and be encouraged to press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed us. To forget the past and look forward to what lies ahead; to look towards the end of the race and the heavenly prize waiting there for us. I like how The Message rewords the next section of Paul’s letter to the Philippians:
I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.
So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.
Stick with me, friends. Keep track of those you see running this same course, headed for this same goal. There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them. I’ve warned you of them many times; sadly, I’m having to do it again. All they want is easy street. They hate Christ’s Cross. But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites.
But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him. – Philippians 3:12-21 (The Message)
Oh what a beautiful day that will be! What a day to look forward to – when Jesus Christ will come for us and transform our imperfect earthly bodies into GLORIOUS bodies like His! He will make us beautiful and whole! So, knowing ALL of this, Paul calls his readers to stay true to the Lord (4:1). Remember God has begun a good work in you and will continue his work until that day when He will return (1:6).
Not only will God transform us then, He is already transforming us now. The result of His work in our lives is evident as we submit to our Creator. As we grow and mature, our lives begin to look more and more like these words of encouragement to the Philippians – one of my favorite passages of Scripture and exactly what I need to soak in this morning:
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again – rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember the Lord is coming soon.
Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all HE HAS DONE. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your 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. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me – everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you (4:4-9).