Straining toward the Goal
Wednesday, August, 31, 2016 | 1:19 PM | by Munholland
Straining toward the Goal
Every business has a clear goal that they try to actualize. AES Global Power has a goal to ‘Provide economical, safe, reliable energy in a responsible manner’. Domino’s Pizza has a goal to have ‘tasty pizza delivered hot to your door within 30 min.’ The reason these are specific and short is so you can focus on and live into them. This also applies to individuals. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul states his goal quite clearly: to ‘press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.’ (Phil 3:12). He has a clear calling to be an apostle to the nations, including traveling across the Roman empire to start churches in strategic cities. Paul goes after it with every fiber of his being. He views living out his calling as a race to be won. He doesn’t leave the outcome to chance; to the contrary, he works hard to ensure his success in the eyes of God. God has also given you a high calling to use your heart, mind, strength, and influence to bring kingdom values and vision into your family and work. However, sometimes we get stuck and need practical help to move forward.
Paul alludes to three areas of our lives that need to be brought into line in order to become the people God wants us to be: our desires, our minds and our actions. A number of years back, my dad said that he felt like he was eating too much. His solution – fast for 3 days! That is just the kind of man he is. He can take decisive, principled action and stick to it if he believes it is the right thing to do. The fact is, most of us have some kind of compulsion, what Paul describes as ‘their god is their stomach.’ Some of us compulsively eat too much food and some the wrong food. Some cannot stay away from pornography and some cannot turn off the TV or other entertainment. Some cannot put down the drink and some the cigarette. The point is that we are often driven by self-destructive desires rather than ones that are healthy and move us closer to Christ. Why not fast from whatever has got a hold on you? I recently read that when a desire comes up that you don’t want to act upon, you can just say to yourself, ‘I’ll put this off for 15 minutes and address it then.’ Usually, you will find that the gut desire has subsided enough that you can make a wiser, more beneficial decision. If you can do this for 40 days straight, you will have won the battle. Try it!
Paul also said that we need to align our minds. We are like a computer that has had a lot of bad code written into it over years. Our minds don’t change all in an instant when we become a Christian. We have to take the time, prayer and effort to rewrite our encoded thinking habits. We can replace the old thoughts with new ones. Paul puts it this way, ‘Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think on these things.’ (Phil 4:8). You see, when you change what you watch, read and talk about, you refocus your mind for good or ill. The Bible is a good starting point, but remember, ‘The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.’ Ask God to help you think about the things of the world from His point of view. When you keep the Lord in mind, you will find you have the mind of Christ.
Finally, Paul challenges us to change our actions. This will naturally follow as we change our thinking. However, Paul offers some very practical advice: ‘follow my example, and …keep your eyes on those who live as we do.’ (Phil 3:17). Look around you. Who stands out as a loving, grace-filled Christian who people want to be around? Why not go up to them and ask them if you could go to lunch with them? Ask how they handle certain situations at work and at home. There are no ‘perfect’ people, but there are people who are further down the road with Christ who you can look towards to gain insight and inspiration. Of course, Jesus is our best example. He took time to talk with those who others ignored. He prayed for people on the spot. He gave wisdom and insight to people who asked. He loved children. He spent time alone with the Father and enjoyed life with his friends. Imitate Christ and follow those who follow Him.
Why not make a decision today to align your desires, thoughts and actions with God’s will for your life? You can continue living the same frustrating life, or you can experience grace and abundance as God transforms you.