One effective way to shed some light on a passage in Scripture is to have several people read the same passage and paraphrase it in their own words and provide some perspective on how they would apply it to their own individual lives. Last Wednesday night we did this at God & Tacos…each of us provided a written paraphrase of what a selected passage of Scripture meant to each of us on a personal level. The passage we selected is particularly important because the Apostle Paul mentions, “Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you…”
We Should All Be Thinking This Way
I find it very interesting that whatever Paul talks about in the verses leading up to his statement of agreement, he considers it to be something that every believer that is maturing in Christ should agree upon and think alike concerning. In today’s church, finding common ground with other believers in matters of spiritual growth and maturity is important for the Body of Christ to reach unity.
“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. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” (Philippians 3:11-21)
It is pretty clear that the one thing that Paul is talking about here when he says that we should all “think this way,” that he is referring to how we get up and walk away from our past failures and mistakes and continue to follow after Christ with a renewed sense of passion and purpose every day. We should never think that we “have arrived” when it comes to spiritual maturity. In the same way that children go through adolescence and puberty, spiritual growth is a process, and everyone experiences it differently and at different speeds.
“I make a lot of mistakes, but after I fall I get back up and keep following Jesus. I can’t spend time thinking about my regrets about the past; I need to focus on the future and what Christ has for me. I can’t let materialism, fleshly desires, or pride dictate how I live.”
“Keep working toward my life’s goal. Don’t let your past control you—look forward to what Christ as for you, and allow God to dictate your attitude. Don’t give in to earthly feelings and desires. Keep looking toward the glory that God has for you.”
“Life isn’t about right now or what has already happened. It’s about how one day we will be with Jesus. So stop living for yourselves and for this moment…live for God. Love God, love people.”
“Not that I have already arrived or have it all together, but I pursue so that I may attain that very thing that made Jesus pursue and claim me. Brothers and sisters, I don’t act like I have it all, but I’ll tell you what I do in times like these: I refuse to look back to my past and instead I look ahead to my future. I give everything I have to become the man / woman of God that God predestined me to be. Let those who are strong in God think this way and if you disagree with me, God will make the truth obvious to you as well. Let us walk together in one mind, one heart, and one spirit. As I am Christlike, follow my example to others. There are many people who claim to be Christians but aren’t. This makes my heart break. These people are headed for hell and all they care about is living the good life. They are actually proud of their sin. Our inheritance and true home is heaven. We are so excited about Jesus’ so in return we will all get new bodies and live with Jesus forever.”
“From time to time I am reminded of my past…from the actions and choices I made in the past. But there is one thing I do that helps me forget and put aside the remnants of my past. I am redeemed by Jesus Christ and called at a much higher calling of authority. I walk in unity with the Lord although many walk around neglecting their true identity of who they are…totally unaware that they are made to be perfect, if they do not know, but are willing to know, God will reveal this perfection that we have already attained with Christ.”
“Strive with everything to make your relationship with God your own; make it personal. Because I am still maturing, I feed my momentum and seek Christ with the same intensity that He sought after me. I do not allow my past to slow me down; I only focus my attention to the life that God has for me. Let all those that are maturing in Christ think this same way—to pursue Christ like nothing else matters. Hold true and walk in the light of what He has revealed to you. Follow my example; make a mental note of those who also live this way. There are many among you…in your midst…that appear to live right, but really just focus on earthly things. They are enemies of the cross of Christ and will come to destruction when it’s all said and done.”
“I don’t have it all together yet, but my focus is on my eternal home. I am flesh and blood, but Christ Christ has already restored me to Him. My body will pass away. My relationship will be evident in my life to everyone. Look for brothers who are living this way and follow their examples in what they are doing. A lot of the world hates those to the point of wanting to kill them. Do not fear this, but rejoice in trials and persecutions now that they can only kill me here on earth but if you are in Christ you will live with God for eternity.”
Implement This in Your Own Study Time
Try this the next time you sit down with someone to fellowship: write down the passage of scripture as if you were being moved by the Holy Spirit to write that passage to a group of believers that desperately needs to hear what is written. Doing this will help you to:
• Learn how to read and study Scripture in its context.
• Discover that truth is truth no matter when it was written (Matthew 24:35, 2 Timothy 3:16).
• Help you to live in and walk out that truth in your own life (James 1:22).
This also works when you are by yourself and are studying a passage on your own. Read the same passage of Scripture in 4 or 5 different translations. The ones I use are King James (KJV), English Standard Version (ESV), Amplified (AMP), and the New Living Translation (NLT).