I hadn't planned on posting that photo here, but now that I have I am struck by how it illustrates the passage I'm SOAPing today. Irony? Coincidence? God.
Scripture: "Only let us live up to what we have already attained." Phil 3:16, NIV
Observation: "What we have already attained" refers here to righteousness in Christ Jesus, and this exhortation speaks not of striving to attain salvation, but rather living in a way that expresses gratitude and a faithful witness, serving as an example.
Application: Having received the diploma and participated in the ceremony pictured above, if my son were now to flop down and become a slothful couch potato, not seeking to further his education, employ his talents, and multiply the gifts he's been given, he'd be wasting that which he's attained, backsliding into mediocrity and setting a lousy example for the value of a high school education. How much more so, then, must we who understand and have accepted the ultimate gift of righteousness through Christ strive to live in such a way that we are not a stopping point for God's grace and mercy, but rather a conduit for it. This is not to be confused with striving to achieve salvation, which is a, perhaps the, pervasive lie in the world today. Just last night I overheard on TV the perpetuation of the misconception that if you're good you'll go to heaven, and if you're bad you won't. Paul reminds us in this chapter that we are powerless on our own to achieve salvation. Good works are useless for this purpose. But deeds are how we live out our faith and allow God to work through us for the advancement of his kingdom. If I say, "I'm saved so there's nothing more I need to do," I am quenching the very Spirit of God in me.
Prayer: Father God, fill me with gratitude, willingness, energy and awareness to do the work you have given me to do, giving you the glory and providing a valuable witness for the righteousness you so graciously bestow through your son Jesus Christ. Amen.