We become what we practice. We practice what we imagine is the goal of where we are going. As Christ followers, we are to set the goal of living in love so that we can practice love to become more loving.
Heraclitus said, “Allow yourself to think only those thoughts that match your principles and can bear the bright light of day. Day by day, your choices, your thoughts, your actions fashion the person you become. Your integrity determines your destiny.” Every thought, every choice, every action forms our character in a certain direction. Heraclitus was saying that we should make sure our thoughts are in accordance with the principles we hold, or we will be led astray.
In the focus scripture for this week, Paul said that we are to be formed to be Christlike when we see the prize, and then put in the work to move toward that prize. He tells us that disciples must prepare to run with that kind of intense dedication and passion, and disciples should be in “strict training,” just as an athlete would before an important race. Disciples must be willing to make sacrifices, endure some pain, as an athlete trains by buffeting their own body to prepare for that race.
The “prize” that is Paul’s goal, which God empowered him to passionately pursue, is simply the prize of being able to know Christ. It’s the prize of having developed a character that has a greater capacity to experience and reflect his love. Paul is aware that he could not strive for Christlikeness without the empowering of the Holy Spirit, but he’s also aware that God isn’t going to do this for him. He has to strive for it.
Receiving and living in God’s love to the point of being able to give it away is the prize that is set before us. There is nothing more important, as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13. It does not matter how impressive our spiritual life is if there is no love. Everything depends upon the love we give to others.
To grow in this love, Greg challenges us with three basic practices. First, Get All Our Life From Christ. God designed us to receive his love so that we might be empowered to give it away. Secondly, Agree with God About the Unsurpassable Worth of Everyone. Christ died for everyone, no matter what we think about them. Therefore, we are called to bless them without question of whether they deserve it. Finally, Pray For Our Enemies. These three practices (G.A.P.) will form our character, set our destiny and move us toward Christ love.
Hide Extended Summary