May 14 – Be Consistent

Let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.

Philippians 3:16, nasb

You can’t win a race without a consistent effort because Christlikeness is an ongoing pursuit. The Greek verb for “keep living” speaks of walking in line. Paul was saying that we need to stay in line spiritually, to keep moving forward by the same principles that got us this far.

Are you moving forward? Or are you standing in one place looking backward and defending yourself? Perhaps you need to refresh your commitment. If you don’t know Jesus Christ, then you start growing by receiving Him as Lord and Savior. If you do know Him but have not been growing spiritually, ask God to forgive you and help you move toward perfection. May we all be committed to the goal of becoming as much like Christ as we can until we see Him.[1]

Pursuing the Prize Requires a Proper Conformity

however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained. (3:16)

Plēn (however) could also be translated “one more thing.” It is often used to express one final thought. This last prerequisite for pursuing the prize might also be described as consistency. Having developed a proper awareness, effort, focus, motivation, and recognition, believers must consistently keep living by that same standard to which they have attained. Stoicheō (keep living) means “to line up,” or “to follow in line.” Believers must keep to the spiritual path that they have been following. To use the metaphor of a race, they must keep running in their lane.

Four divinely provided resources help believers to consistently pursue the prize of Christlikeness. First is the Word of God. Peter wrote, “Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). Second is prayer. Paul prayed that the Corinthians would “be made complete” (2 Cor. 13:9). Third is following a godly example. Paul exhorted the Corinthians, “Be imitators of me” (1 Cor. 4:16; cf. 11:1; Phil. 3:17; 1 Thess. 1:6; 2 Thess. 3:7, 9; 1 Tim. 4:12; Heb. 13:7; 1 Peter 5:3). Finally, God uses trials to mold believers into the image of Jesus Christ: “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you” (1 Peter 5:10; cf. James 1:2–4).

At the foot of one of the Swiss Alps is a marker honoring a man who fell to his death attempting the ascent. The marker gives his name and this brief epitaph: “He died climbing.” The epitaph of every Christian should be that they died climbing the upward path toward the prize of Christlikeness.[2]

16 Paul introduces his point with plēn (NASB, “however”; NIV, “only”). The verb stoicheō (GK 5123) means “to get in line with, to be guided by” (Gal 5:25; 6:16). What is it that we have attained? Paul’s conclusions in Romans 9:30–31, where similar vocabulary occurs, offer the answer: “What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained [katelaben] it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained [ephthasen] it.” What Christians have attained is what Christ has attained for them, which excludes all boasting, vanity, and haughtiness toward others (see my “Composition and Unity of Philippians,” 171).[3]

3:16 Then the apostle adds that, in the meantime, we should live up to whatever light the Lord has given us. It would not do to mark time until we came to a fuller knowledge of what is required of us as Christians. While we wait for the Lord to reveal the full implications of the cross to us, we should obey whatever degree of truth we have received.[4]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 151). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2001). Philippians (p. 250). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Garland, D. E. (2006). Philippians. In T. Longman III (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 246). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1976). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.


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