How Will You Change in 2024? Part One

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14).

As much as I enjoy starting a new year with goals and plans. The thing is, I also start each new year bringing along everything from the past year. Same husband, same kids, same hairdo, same places I’d like to travel, same friends (hopefully), same health, same zucchini muffins from the market, same work, same church (often, even the same pew). I think you get the idea. My world, and I imagine yours too, consists mostly of the same.

Consistency

Consistency, is not a necessarily a bad thing. What’s wrong with enjoying a life of sameness? Who wants life to look like someone keeps pushing the button on the blender? Not me! The thought of change generates two reactions in people. Either you want everything to remain as is or you wake up hoping that today will be different. As Bill Murray states in the movie Groundhog Day, “Different is good.”

Hopefully, you desire a bit of both. Certainly, God realizes most of life is repetitive. The question he poses to us becomes, repetitive in what direction? Is your life moving you toward the higher calling of Christ or away from it?

A Careful Look at Philippians 3:12-14

So, let’s look more carefully at the passage above and what Paul had to say to the Philippians and to us. 

To begin with, we need to recognize that the “prize” is not our salvation. Paul, is writing to the Philippians about 30 years after his salvation experience. (1) During those years he experienced many various trials and had matured in his faith. Yet, he openly confesses he has not arrived or reached his goal of complete maturity in Christ. Knowing that Christ has more for him and for the Philippians he encourages them to press on in their faith. 

Christ took hold of Paul’s life for a reason. He did the same for you and me. Now that we have received our salvation, our desire becomes like Paul’s taking hold of all that Christ has for us now. Our growth and increasing maturity continue, as the process of our sanctification. Salvation marks the beginning, but greater things still remain! One day the “prize” may produce heavenly rewards. But Paul’s life focuses on all that is before him now, in this life. 

What else does Paul exhort us in? “Forgetting what lies behind.” What lies behind Paul? The same things that lie behind us all, success, and failures.

Paul wasn’t one to brag about his successes. Though he had quite the resume of Christian service and ministry. Rather, he quotes scripture to us, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:31b). Nor does he waste time brooding over his failures. Why? Because when we camp in either of those areas, we lose sight of our calling.

In Acts 7:58, Paul, then Saul, kept guard over the coats of those who stoned Stephen, the first Christian martyr. Then began to arrest and imprison every Christ follower he could find. Paul  later realized his need to accept the forgiveness Christ offered. We can’t “press on toward the goal” if we stay stuck in our past sins and failures. What sins are you still keeping guard over? From where have you failed and can’t move on? What’s holding you back from pressing on? Dwelling on the past keeps us from living a new life of faith and obedience.

This Philippians passage speaks volumes about the diligent Christian life. It’s full of action phrases of what Paul must do to win the prize for which he has been called.

We may find the Christian life repetitive, but never is it idle!

“This testimony of the apostle reminded the saints at Philippi—and it serves to remind believers today—that there must never be a stalemate in their spiritual growth or a plateau beyond which they cannot climb.” (2)

I opened this writing by expressing my excitement in starting each year with goals and plans. Some personal, some spiritual, but all I hope to bring greater spiritual maturity to my life. Perhaps you have set your own targets you’re aiming for this year. In part two of “How Will You Change in 2024?” I want to offer some personal insights and practical help on how we fix our minds towards pressing on in the power of Christ. Along with the beauty of change and how we can embrace it.

Until then, press on!

Footnotes

  1. Robert P. Lightner, “Philippians,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J.F. Walvoord and R.B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 661.
  2. Ibid, 661.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top