Today, physically and mentally, is one of my weaker days. The past two days, though it was minor, I wasn’t feeling well, and I finally feel as if I have gone “over the hump” as it were, and am on an upward swing. And though I’ve been getting to bed earlier, and sleeping a lot more over the last few days, I’m still not back to normal. I think of days like this as training. Seriously. When my focus is muddled, when I’m not able to think clearly, when I’m not at my best, I do everything I can to focus even more on Jesus and what He has done for me. I look at all of my trials like that. When things are good, it’s easy to think “I’ve got this” or “Look at how good I am doing!” and focus on myself and my accomplishments. But I need to ALWAYS be focused on Jesus. And so I strain on days like today.
Loved ones, this should be the effort we ALL make. We should not take God’s love for granted and abuse grace. He can’t be fooled. Our goal should always be to strive for Him. God doesn’t care about our accomplishments. We can’t impress Him, and He knows our hearts and our motivations. Everything we do that is self-seeking shall be burned away, and those who approach Jesus with their credentials will be removed from His presence (Jesus will say “I never knew you!”). Life is all about Him. Salvation is all about what He has done. Use the days of hardship to inform your days of peace, in that in everything, you strain and strive for Christ, whether it goes well with you or not. Strive for Christ, who came and lived as one of us FOR us, and died in our place, rising again that sin and death would have no hold on us. He’s worth it.
Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.
Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
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. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.