We can be somewhere and have yet not arrived. Someone may ask you, “What are you thinking about? Where are you?” Of course if the person is talking to me then I am obviously physically present, but mentally I may have not yet arrived. My mind is somewhere else.
If I’m going to let go of the future and stop looking at it with a weary eye, I need to live in the present as though I’m already in the future. That may seem somewhat confusing but it was the Apostle Paul’s prayer for the Philippian church:
“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11)
I can live for today knowing what my tomorrow brings, and this knowledge should make me live today as though I am living in tomorrow. My future is bright and will be complete because of the work Christ has begun in me and because when He returns all my desires for a full and fruitful life in Christ will be realized. Writing on our passage, the InterVarsity Press (IVP) New Testament Commentary explains:
Paul in part prays for the continuation of the very things for which he has just given thanks. This should surprise us none, since both reports reflect the same basic theological framework–present existence in Christ as both “already” and “not yet.” Paul’s prayer for them is that they might live the life of the future in the present, so that they might thereby be blameless at its consummation on the day of Christ. The concern is with present life in Christ; the orientation is toward its consummation–that they live for Christ now, and do so in light of his coming day.
My spiritual growth is dependent upon my growing faith in my knowledge of Christ. it allows me to test what is good and to live a righteous life that glorifies and brings praise to my Heavenly Father. Paul taught this same lesson to the Colossian church:
“For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:9-14)
The hope that we have for our eternal future rests in our inheritance as children of God. That inheritance was made possible when we were redeemed from our sins through the blood of Jesus Christ. We are part of a royal family and must live our lives as such instead of the life from which we were rescued.
However this is not a work of my will; it is the work of the Lord through the indwelling Holy Spirit. So much of the American church’s woes would be erased if we would just understand how holiness comes. Yes it comes through obedience on our part, but the work is of our Lord Jesus Christ:
“And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.” (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13)
We can no longer use the excuse of “God’s not done with me yet” even though it bears some truth. Too often we use this excuse to cover up our spiritual immaturity and indolence. We are supposed to be growing so that our love for others bursts forth from us. My critical spirit is no longer acceptable if I am to be blameless in holiness. I am to be an encourager, not a discourager.
Even though I am “not yet” at the level of spiritual maturity I know I am to be, I “already” have all I need to be so. I have the Word of God, the forgiveness of God, and the Spirit of God to help me arrive to the future that awaits me.
The question is, am I ready to go?
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Copyright © 2013 David Jeffers
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