By Randy Harshbarger
Most people are interested in making life a rewarding experience. Too, most people want to enjoy good health, have nice possessions, good jobs, etc. There is nothing wrong with any of these things per se. However, the television media presents a different slant on what constitutes a rewarding life in the popular (?) slogan: “You only go around once in life, so grab for all the gusto you can.” To some, this type of thinking means that a person is free to live unrestrained, with no regard for the rights and feelings of others. Too, this philosophy is manifested when people show an utter disregard for the Lord and His will. Of course, it is not unnatural for Christians to want to enjoy life and enjoy a certain amount of what this world has to offer. There is however, a difference between a Christian and the person who grabs for all the gusto he can. The Christian recognizes that God is the giver of all things both good and perfect, and the Christian is thankful to the Lord for all He has given. The Christian lives his life with purpose and meaning. The child of God is able to enjoy this life with all the blessings God has bestowed, but also recognizes that this life will soon be over. In view of death and eternity, the Christian seeks a philosophy of life that will enable him to live with God forever. Those who try to live apart from God need to consider the words of Paul in Philippians 3:13, 14. In these verses the Apostle sets forth the Philosophy Of Life that will bring true and lasting happiness to all men.
First of all, Paul tells us to “forget the things which are behind.” In one sense, a person can never forget some things that have happened in the past. But Paul’s advice suggests that we forget things to the extent that we don’t allow them to hinder the present. Paul had to forget his former manner of life as a prominent Jew and persecutor of the Lord’s church. To dwell on these things would have hindered Paul as a gospel preacher. Christians today need to forget past sins that have been forgiven lest we become discouraged by them. We need to forget past defeats lest we become despondent. We must forget past accomplishments for the Lord lest we neglect the challenges of the present and future. Now is the time for study, teaching and faithfulness in our Christian service to the Lord.
Second, Paul tells us to “stretch forward to the things which are before.” The word stretch is a word that conveys the idea of stretching or reaching for the ribbon in a race. This suggests that Christians must always be trying to reach for “perfection” (Phil. 3:12). The Christian strives to reach full-grown maturity in Jesus Christ. The Christian craves a knowledge of Christ and then studies to learn more about the Son of God. We will never be perfect, but the Christian recognizes his imperfections and sees the need for continual growth. By doing this we have “the righteousness which is from God by faith” (Phil. 3:9).
Thirdly, Paul tells us to “press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” The word press means to actively pursue. The prize is something that compels us to put forth much effort in order to gain it. What is that prize? The crown of life! We now live in hope of eternal life. One day that hope will become a reality as we hear the Lord say, “Well done!” God calls us through the gospel. It remains for us to answer that call, “making our calling and election sure.” Then and only then will we have “an abundant entrance” into the kingdom of God’s dear Son.
Seek the philosophy of life that pleases the Lord. Then and only then can you know true and lasting happiness, not only in this world but in the world to come.
Guardian of Truth XXVII: 16, p. 495
August 18, 1983