A few years ago the movie “Dead Poets Society” resurrected an obscure Latin phrase that most of us had forgotten; “Carpe Diem”. It means, seize the day. It is an exhortation to live life to the fullest, getting the most out of each individual day.
If you surveyed one hundred people, probably all of them would say this is what they want from their own life. No one wants life to be mediocre, at least not many are willing to admit it. By nature, we want our lives to be full.
Unfortunately, many times we get so caught up in the details of day to day living that we just do not have time to seize the day! We have deadlines and commitments, problems and priorities, distractions and obstacles, and though we really want more fulfillment from every single day, it just does not seem to be within our grasp.
The Apostle Paul believed in this philosophy of life – Carpe Diem, or, seize the day. He said it this way to the Ephesian Christians. “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” Eph 5:15-16
In Philippians 3 he put it easily within our grasp. Here he described his own philosophy of life. If you follow his example, you can learn to seize the day and live life to the fullest, no matter how hectic your life may be. Paul showed us three simple steps to living a more fulfilling life and ceasing the opportunity.
“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, … Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:7-8,13-14
Paul was seizing the opportunity because he knew what he was after. He had defined his purpose.
The First Step – Know or Define Your Purpose
In order for a business, church, organization, family, or individual to be successful, they must first know exactly what their purpose is.
A good example of this is the IRS. Like them or not, they know their purpose for existing. In the 1976 IRS Handbook it states: “During a state of national emergency resulting from enemy attack, the essential functions of the Service will be as follows: assessing, collecting, and recording taxes.” So while everyone panics, they will be about doing what they always do, taking our money. They know their purpose.
The question is what is your primary purpose? In other words, what is your reason for living? Everything in creation has a primary purpose, or a reason for existing. For anyone or anything to be successful, it must fulfill a purpose.
Paul stated his reason for living. Paul was saying “I want to know Christ so that I may be like Him.” Simply put, Paul’s reason for living was to be like Jesus.
The Second Step – Forget The Past
“this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14
There are two elements of the past that we must forget.
1. Forget the Bad:
Paul had a past to forget. He had tortured and murdered many innocent people. He had caused a lot of pain and had done much damage to the cause of Christ. Now, he was faced with a choice. He could either dwell on his mistakes and let them ruin his chance for effective ministry, or he could forget about it and move on with his life. God says, I am He who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins. (Isaiah 43:25) I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more. (Isaiah 31:34)
2. Forget the Good:
Many people zero in on one good period of time in their life and spend the rest of their days reliving the past. Maybe it was high school or college, or back when the children were young, or any other special time. It is always a temptation to live in the past, especially if it is good.
Paul knew that a good past was not in itself enough to guarantee a meaningful future. Paul is saying “I will not live in the past. My reason for living is to be like Jesus, and whatever happened yesterday, good or bad, is now ancient history. I will live for Jesus today.”
The Third Step – Keep Our Eyes to the Prize
(verse 13) forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
Keeping our eyes to the prize means that we put our faith in Jesus Christ today, and trust Him to be involved in our life today. This enables us to fulfill our purpose in life. This gives us faith to cease the moment and act on what He has promised.