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Philippians 3

Are You an Over Achiever?

Have you ever met a legalistic person who makes you feel like you are doing everything wrong? Well, Paul warns us about those people in Philippians 3. 

In this chapter, Paul clears up a very important detail in the early Christian church that we can learn from today as well . . . this issue was pleasing God with energies of the flesh! This is a topic that really hit home to me as I would call myself an “over achiever” and I like to succeed in the things I do, including pleasing God. But when does that go too far? 

Paul clarifies that having great achievements or “checking all the boxes” of what we think pleases God is not really having a genuine relationship with Christ Jesus our Savior. He says: “For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh.” So basically those of us who worship God in the power and freedom of the Holy Spirit, not in the laws and religious duties, are the ones who please God. It is NOT what we can accomplish in our own strength—we only boast in what Jesus Christ has done. What a relief that is!

Paul admits he was guilty of this same thinking. Paul had a lot to boast about: his pedigree, his study of the law as a Pharisee, and his zeal in persecuting Christians before his conversion. Aren’t we all a bit guilty too? I confess, I am a doer and feel comfortable with a long list of do’s and don’ts and if I just follow that I can be pleasing to God and ensure my salvation, right? Wrong! 

Not only did he consider all his gains/achievements one big loss, he considered them “garbage” compared with finding Christ and knowing him intimately. Paul put a personal relationship with Jesus Christ at the very center of the Christian’s life. 

So where do we go from here? Paul gives us an excellent plan. He says in verse 10, “I want to know Christ – yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his suffering, becoming like him in his death.” When we really KNOW our Savior, we will experience evidence of his power . . . the power that defeated Satan, the power that wiped away the sins of the world, the power that raised Christ from the dead, the power that heals us of all unrighteousness. When we really know Christ we experience the suffering he experienced here on Earth, but then like Paul says, “somehow, attain[] to the resurrection from the dead.” Wow, what a hope we have to know we have eternal life with Jesus in Heaven after we are done here on Earth. 

Paul admits that he has not already obtained all there is to know or arrived at his goal. Yet, he says in verse 13, “But one thing I do [know]: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the heavenly prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Notice the prize is the call of God in Christ Jesus? Our daily walk in relationship with God through Jesus is the PRIZE we press towards. How encouraging is that! Paul ends this chapter with encouragement that even if we are not mature in our faith and do not have this attitude, then God will make it clear to us. He says in verse 16, “only let us stay true to what we have already attained,” so walk out your faith and relationship with Christ in what you have learned and know already and more revelation will come from God!

He says, remember “we are different because our citizenship is in Heaven. And from there we eagerly await the coming of the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ who, by exerting that power which enables Him even to subject everything to Himself, will not only transform, but completely refashion our earthly bodies so that they will be like His glorious resurrected body.” (v. 20-21).

Thank you Lord for the promise that it is not our works that save us. And thank you for all you do in us and through us as we grow to know you more personally. You will transform us to be like your glorious resurrected body! You can subdue all things to you because you are omnipotent. We can hand over any sin, any conflict to you, and you will bring it into your control. 


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Weekly reflection by

Pilar Hanes