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.
Scripture has many warnings for the sluggard and the indecisive. Ecclesiastes imparts the wisdom to do with your might whatever your hand finds to do (9:10) and cautions against letting uncertainty prevent the work of planting and harvesting (11:4). The exhortations of the Old Testament are fully developed in the coming of Jesus and the salvation that he brings. In Luke 14:12-24 Christ clearly stresses the urgency of the gospel, and the danger of delay in one’s response to his call in the parable of the great banquet. The apostle Paul takes up this appeal in his ministry, as we see in 2 Cor. 6:2: “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
Praise God that by the Holy Spirit’s work, so many have heard this call and by faith have looked to Christ for salvation! And yet, there are many opportunities for Christians to fall into indecision. We know that we should not grow weary in doing good (Galatians 6:9). Though if we are honest, we can feel overwhelmed by the need to be perfect as our heavenly father is perfect (Matthew 5:48), particularly when forgetting to acknowledge that perfection is only found in Christ. Once this error occurs, we can read Ephesians 5:15 – “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise,” – and attempt to answer ourselves, rather than looking to God’s word, the question raised in verse 16: What is the best use of our time?
In terms of human behavior, the perfect can become the enemy of the good. This is a frequent refrain in my work, including when there is a struggle to translate an ideal world treatment to a real world context. This pattern arises in spiritual life and development as well. Do any of these statements sound familiar? Yes, I’d like to share the gospel with my coworkers or family members, but my scripture memory should be a little more polished before I enter into these conversations . . . I meant to set aside an hour for some rich time in the word and prayer, but today I’ve only got 15 minutes in the car . . . How can I enter into supplication without spending sufficient time in adoration, confession, and thanksgiving? . . . It’s better to wait on doing family worship until it can be daily – my schedule is just too inconsistent right now.
Here is where Paul’s example and encouragement in Philippians can be so helpful to Christians stuck between awareness of their imperfections and desire for things to be “just right.” Like Paul, we are not perfect, but Christ Jesus has made us his own. We can acknowledge the gracious gift of salvation already given to us, recognize that the full consummation of that salvation is yet to come, and rejoice that we can press on; not by our own strength, but by the sustaining power of being united to Christ.