Pursuing spiritual maturity
I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you. But we must hold on to the progress we have already made. Philippians 3:14-16 NLT
To grow into spiritual maturity is possible. This is what Paul is alluding to from the text. From the previous passages he emphasized that his call includes growing into maturity (see Philippians 3:12–14). He now applies the issue specifically to his readers. He challenges the readers to be like-minded with him about the importance of growing into maturity. Some of them, however, are not like-minded, but rather “disagree on some point” (Philippians 3:15). The point seems to be that Paul acknowledges that some in Philippi think differently about this matter of maturity. He disagrees with them, and his life is a testimony of the difference of that understanding (i.e., not that he has reached perfection as they have so claimed). But in the end, God will have to deal with this difference; “I believe God will make it plain to you” (Philippians 3:15). The difference that exists as he admitted should be left up to God to deal with. It will not become an occasion for division. The last word on the matter is this: “We must hold on to the progress we have already made” (Philippians 3:16). The implication of this passage is significant for the contemporary church and to every believer. So many churches today struggle with regard to just how much diversity it can allow without harming its witness and vitality. The problem is one of doctrinal belief versus the pursuit of harmonious relationship. Belief in the truth is of greater importance for it is what guides decisions and actions. When Jesus prayed for His disciples before His betrayal and arrest, He prayed that they take hold of God’s truth found in His word. “Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth” (John 17:17). As they hold on to God’s truth, their unity will become a visible witness to the world. “I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me” (John 17:21). It is true that authentic unity cannot be created outside of the power of the Holy Spirit and God’s word. However, every believer can demonstrate this unity in the life and work of the visible church if they are in pursuit of growing in spiritual maturity.