Fellow Pilgrim, January 16, 2017
Are you a happy person? If you really want to know ask your spouse or a close friend, ‘Do you think I’m a happy person?’ Don’t ask it like this: ‘You do think I’m a happy person don’t you?’ This is an unfair way to ask it! Here’s a self-test to help you determine whether you’re a happy person or not:
1. Do I frequently blame others when I’m unhappy? (be honest!)
2. Do I have difficulty forgiving someone who has wronged me?
3. Do I even like my spouse (or family)? (this one requires a little attitude)
4. Do I criticize others when they don’t live up to my expectations?
5. Have I spent time in conversation with God or listened to His Word this week – one on one?
6. Am I happy just to pursue my own passions and desires?
In the first half of Philippians 3 Paul clarifies what a mature believer is. He or she is someone who finds knowing Christ more exciting than anything else. This person delves into the power of the resurrection (redemption), and the fellowship of His sufferings (letting go of small ambitions), in order to gain the hope of eternal life. A mature believer is the only one who can begin a journey to true happiness. This is a simple lesson few people ever learn. We grasp for happiness and it slips through our fingers. People let us down. Things don’t go our way. One more crisis to mop up. A mature believer isn’t perfect. He makes mistakes. He has to say ‘I’m sorry’ sometimes. But he always hungers for more of God. He presses on like an athlete intent on winning. (Philippians 3:8,12) Here are four marks of a mature person:
1. Do you keep on with what you’ve already learned – even if it doesn’t seem to be helping? This is called ‘perseverance’. (v16)
2. Do you forget what lies behind? (v13) You don’t replay your victories. You don’t replay your defeats. This will either give you a big head or make you feel like a failure. I don’t have to try very hard to remember certain bad memories. It takes discipline to say to yourself – I am not going there. But I can do it! Nothing squashes joy like living in the past with her glories and regrets.
3. Do you live fully in the present? The late Dr. Clyde Kilby, a teacher of English literature at Wheaton College, resolved: “I shall not allow the devilish onrush of this century to usurp all my energies but will instead, ‘fulfill the moment as the moment’. I shall try to live well just now because the only time that exists is now.” John Piper remembers him as one who had an ‘extraordinarily awake, God-oriented palate for wonder in poetry and nature.’ Is today something to get through or something to wring every ounce of life out of?
4. Do you look to the future with optimism? Paul says that the mature person of faith is ‘reaching for what lies ahead’. It pictures a runner straining for the finish line. Tomorrow is not a threat to my tidy little world but an opportunity to adventure further into the wonderful mystery of God and faith!
Funny thing is…this is the recipe for joy. It is a mixture of faith, struggle, purpose and trust that we live in a God-drenched world, if we would only reach out and discover him.