Two things are important when you take a trip: transportation and discrimination. You must know how you are going to get there and you must determine what to take with you. If you want to ruin your trip, take too much luggage.
It is the same in your Christian life. Knowing what to take and what to leave behind is the critical issue. The Christian life is a journey. We are pilgrims just passing through. Travel light.
Some Christians have accumulated lots of stuff over the years. Spiritual pack rats they are. With every passing year, their spiritual luggage gets more cumbersome. Time to unpack that luggage and throw out the things you don’t need.
Backpacks of bitterness. Handbags of hurt feelings. Suitcases of self-pity. Trunks full of anger, fear, unforgiveness, and other assorted burdens and sins.
Philippians 3:12-16 is Paul’s travel guide for your Christian life and he lists five key points you need to know to travel light.
- Develop a healthy DISSATISFACTION with where you are spiritually. (12)
Notice I said a “healthy dissatisfaction,” not a paranoid or morbid dissatisfaction. Picture a scale of spiritual maturity from 1 to 10 with 1 being very immature and 10 being sinless perfection. How would you rate your spiritual maturity? Are you a 3? A 6? Wherever you are, don’t be content to remain there in 2016. Don’t be addicted to spiritual mediocrity. If you are a 3, move to 4. If you are a 6, move to 7.
- Develop a single-minded DEVOTION. (13)
Paul says, “one thing I do.” Jesus said to the rich young ruler: “one thing you lack.” He said to Martha, “one thing is important….”
One thing. Not two things or ten things, but one thing. The one thing that is the main thing in your life is being like Jesus; a mature disciple in Christ.
A laser is focused light. It can cut through wood or metal. When you get focused you will learn how to travel light.
- Develop a dogged DETERMINATION to be like Christ! (14)
This is the content of Paul’s “one thing”: “I Press toward the goal of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Picture of the runner whose eyes are fixed on the goal. With every effort of physical and mental exertion, he “presses” for the goal. Our goal is Christlikeness.
In order to press toward this goal, Paul lists two absolutely necessary things you must do.
First, discard all DISTRACTIONS. (13b) “Forgetting the things that are behind.” You cannot erase the memory of the past, but you can live in the present no longer influenced by the past. Two things distract us: past failures and past successes. You can depend on neither for today’s Christlikeness. Get a spiritual waste basket and chunk those past failures in it. You break the power of the past by living for the future.
Second, develop DILIGENCE. (13c) “Reaching forth to the things ahead.” The best picture I know of this word “reaching” is a football receiver sprinting down field. The ball is in the air and is arcing down in front of him just short of the goal line. An ordinary reach will not do. So the receiver, taking no thought for his body, leaves his feet, stretches out his body until he is parallel with the turf, extends his arms to the limit . . . and comes down with the ball in hand over the goal line for a touchdown.
- Develop spiritual DISCERNMENT. (15)
“. . . and if any of you on some point think differently, God will reveal this to you.” Discernment comes through knowledge of the Scriptures, prayer, and a lifetime of walking with God.
- Develop spiritual DISCIPLINE. (16)
“Let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.” The Bible is filled with people who began well, but ended poorly: Lot, Samson, Saul . . . . Why? They lacked spiritual discipline. They disregarded the rules.
August 7, 1954. The Empire Games in Vancouver, B.C. The mile race. Roger Banister and John Landy, the two fastest men in the world in the mile run, were competing against each other for the first time. Each had broken the four-minute mile earlier in the year. Landy’s strategy was to get the lead and never relinquish it. Bannister’s strategy was to allow Landy to be just ahead through the first 3 laps, then in lap 4, kick in and pass him.
Bannister was surprised at the strength and stamina of Landy. After lap 3, Landy was pulling away. Bannister moved it up a notch and began to gain ground. Around the last turn, on the last straightway, Landy was in the lead. He did not know exactly how far behind Bannister was because he could no longer hear footsteps due to the deafening roar of the crowd. With less than 90 yards to go, Landy suddenly turned to look over his left shoulder. At that instant Bannister was on Landy’s right shoulder and as soon as Landy looked back, Bannister kicked in, streaked by him, and won the race in the last 20 steps.
Travel Light! And don’t look back!