Talk is cheap.
We’ve all heard that expression and we all know what it means: don’t tell me what you’re going to do, do it. Anyone can brag about what they can do. Anyone can lay out plans with a verbal panorama of the great vista awaiting us over the next mountain. That’s easy.
But actually doing what it takes to get your climbing gear and getting over that mountain to get to that vista is another matter entirely.
The Apostle Paul weighs in on this as well when it comes to our spiritual lives. In Philippians 3:12-14 he pens:
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:12-14, NIV
The metaphor Paul uses of running a race would have captured the vivid imaginations of the Philippians because Philippi’s proximity to Greece exposed them to athletic games. While catching their attention and ours, it’s meant to teach a phenomenal truth.
In verses 4-6 of this same chapter, Paul dismissed heritage as a guarantee of spiritual success. In verses 7-11, he expresses that he has decided to disregard everything for knowing Jesus.
But even that wasn’t enough. After all, it’s not deciding to race that matters. Actually finishing the race is the point!
The seasoned Apostle is speaking against a belief that we can obtain sinless perfectionism—that we can actually be perfect this side of Heaven. The Apostle disagrees sharply. He hasn’t obtained his goal (verses 12-13).
On the contrary, the call of Christ is always competing in our hearts with the call of our sin nature, the call of who we were. Our old habits, patterns, and thoughts are warring against our spiritual growth.
And anyone who is attempting to grow spiritually can understand why Paul uses the expression “straining toward what is ahead”.
Which brings us to the point: we are responsible for our spiritual growth. Those aren’t new words and I’ve even written them here before. But they demand repeating.
We can fall prey to the idea that pastors, Bible teachers, parents, family members or just about anyone else is necessary or required for our spiritual growth. We can convince ourselves that our church must make us grow.
But at best, the church is responsible for preparing the feast; you and I are responsible to eat it.
Just as Paul pressed on to the goal, so must we. We can’t get to a point in our lives where we’re satisfied with our sin. Jesus wants too much for us than that. He has BIG plans for our lives, but we are accountable for growing to the point where we can fulfill that plan.
Do you want to “take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of” you?
Are you ready to make progress in kicking “that sin” to the curb?
Are you ready to not get angry at the same dumb things every time?
Are you ready to exhibit more love for those things you know you’re supposed to love?
Talk is cheap. Instead, pick up your spiritual fork and dig in! Sing to the Lord; worship Him. Consume the wisdom of the Lord in Scripture. Pray often. Quiet yourself and learn to hear His voice.
Keep running! You can make it.