Only let us live up to what we have already attained. Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.
Philippians 3:16-18 (NIV)
Read: Philippians 3:15-21
Consider: In today’s reading from Philippians 3 Paul encourages his readers to live up to what they have already attained – their new life in Christ. What does he mean by this? Paul’s intention could be summarised as ‘Watch what company you keep’ and ‘Be careful of the example you follow’.
Nothing has changed since Paul’s time in that there are still those who live as ‘enemies of the cross of Christ’. These are people who are openly hostile to anything to do with Christianity – whether atheists, secularists, or even followers of another religion. There is also another group to be very wary of – these are people who masquerade as Christians, yet deny the very basics of Christianity. There is plenty of evidence from across the world of so-called ministers who don’t believe the Bible and deny Christ’s divinity, his atoning sacrificial death, the resurrection, etc. These people are as much enemies of Christ as those who vocally oppose him.
Paul wants his readers to follow the example of those who live up to their calling, who live in the knowledge that they are forgiven sinners.
In another of his letters, this time from 1 Corinthians, Paul says this: Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). Also in his letter to the Ephesians Paul says: Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (Ephesians 5:1-2). This is not an impossible standard that is well beyond our reach. As with all things in the Christian life we cannot live God’s way in our own strength, but only as we depend on God for the strength to do so.
Further Reading: Ephesians 4:17-32; 1 Corinthians 10:23-11:1
Pray: Father, may we have a real desire to live in the way you want us to. Keep us from following the world’s example, but to follow the examples you have given us in the Bible. While we may hold certain Christians in high regard, prevent us from setting them up on a pedestal. Amen
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