Hammer of Enforcement

Philippians 3:15-16 “All of us who are mature should take such a view of things.  And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.”

Observation: Paul had a few verses earlier written, “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death and so somehow to attain to the resurrection of the dead.” (vs 9-11)  Now he follows with a statement of surpassing grace, encouraging the mature to take his position on the matter, but trusting God to clarify truth for any who are not yet in agreement.

Application: Grace is such a wonderful thing.  Think how much lower life’s decibels would be if we would extend such ready grace to one another as a matter of routine.  My tendency is first to count myself among the mature to whom Paul refers, which leads inescapably to the conclusion that my view of a matter should be the one to prevail.

From there, it is but a small step to the sweeping conclusion that everyone ought to think like me. How lovely it would be (how smart you would be) if your view would align with mine.

While it is entirely possible that I may actually hold a correct view, I err seriously in trying to force my beliefs upon another.  In doing that, how, exactly, does my behavior differ from the Taliban’s?  “I have the corner on truth in this matter”, I declare; then comes the hammer of enforcement. Everyone is required to think and believe like me, to dress like me, to work according to my boundless fervor.  If they don’t, punishment must surely follow.

What is utterly lost in the passion of such leadership is grace: grace to hear God on one’s own, grace to grow along different lines of gifting, grace to create one’s own mold rather than to simply be stuffed into someone else’s.  Paul’s next verse (16) expresses the need perfectly: “Only let us live up to what we have already attained.”  This reminds me of the phrase, “I already have more than I can say ‘grace’ over.”

My call, like Paul’s, is to hear God as well as I can and respond to His direction for my life as wholeheartedly as possible. In this, I should set such a clear standard that anyone who follows my example would be unashamed. The balance of my privilege is to encourage and mentor others to fulfill their own highest destiny in Christ. Theirs will not look like mine, but by grace, each of us will find our place at the wedding banquet of the Lamb.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, keep my eyes on the prize for which You have called me.  Give me passion to follow You and grace for others to do the same.

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