As we continue in our 60-Day Spiritual Growth series, let’s explore the next important key: Be Passionate. Ponder for a moment this important quote from Nelson Mandela: “There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” How does God want us to live with passion and to live the life He has planned for us?
Let’s start with a definition of passion: an intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction. It is synonymous with words like zealous, heartfelt, inspired, and compelling. What it’s not is apathetic, unenthusiastic, or unexcited. Passion is crucial to our life because it is a powerful motivator.
Passion is a part of our purpose, our calling in life, and without it, something is missing. Your passion is both critical and contagious, and it is critical to the engagement of others (teacher, parent, mentor, minister etc.). As passion is contagious, so is dispassion. A recent Gallup poll of 142 countries showed that 87% of workers are either “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” and only 13% are engaged. In the US alone, this adds up to roughly $550 billion a year in lost productivity. Passion equals productivity, while dispassion sabotages it. To be actively disengaged means you’re busy acting out your unhappiness and dispiritedness, spreading the virus among your colleagues, students, friends, family, etc.
I don’t know a better word for Paul than passionate. He was deeply passionate, consumed, convicted, driven, and inspired to live for Jesus – and it showed in how he related to his past, engaged in the present, and anticipated the future. I want to be passionate like him.
3 Ways to Live with Passion
Philippians 3:12-14: 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. 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, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Notice in these verses the passion Paul has:
- Take hold – Paul’s goal was Christ’s goal for him. Grab on and don’t let go of Christ’s goal for your life!
- But one thing I do – Paul had a clarity of purpose and a singularity of conviction!
#1: Learn from the past, don’t live in it.
- Don’t let your past failures define you “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind…”
- Paul was a Christian killer. He was a Jesus hater. BUT… then he saw the light and became a Christ follower. He could have been paralyzed by his past but instead, he learned from his past and did not live in it. He allowed his passion to grow and he fulfilled God’s purpose for him and became the greatest missionary the church has ever known.
- Are you letting your past paralyze you? Remember the story of Lot’s wife in the Old Testament. God told Lot and his wife to leave Sodom and Gomorrah and not look back, but she looked back and turned into a pillar of salt. She disobeyed and was paralyzed by her past.
- How about you? Are you letting your past failures define you? Remember that the very message of the Cross of Christ is that of a new beginning “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” – 2 Corinthians 5:17.
- Don’t be paralyzed by your past. Be like Paul: 1) hold onto Christ and 2) focus on the One Thing… living for Christ. So how about you?
- Where do you need to forget what is behind and move forward in your faith and life?
- Remember: Our failures are not final. Our future is not futile. Our flub-ups are not fatal.
#2: Maximize the present, don’t miss it.
- The goal here is to make today matter. Why is it that TODAY gets lost in the woods of YESTERDAY’S regrets and TOMORROW’S fears?
- Here’s what Paul said: “straining toward what is ahead…”. He means everyday taking care of business. We are to maximize our opportunities with the relationships we have, looking for opportunities to bless others, encourage our husband or wife or kids or friends or co-workers.
- What about Paul? He could have gotten completely overwhelmed by his past mistakes but instead, Paul lived in the moment, maximized the present, saw it as a gift, and didn’t miss out on using the present for God’s glory and the blessing of others.
- What about us? How easy is it to get caught up in the pain and regrets of your past and to be so overwhelmed by the pressures and anxieties of the future that you miss out on being a blessing in the moment? Paul challenges us to live each day for Christ in Philippians 3:17-19:
- “Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.”
- How can we live for Jesus every day?
- Be passionate about learning and living His Word.
- Serve others
- Encourage your marriage and family/bless them in practical ways.
- Keep yourself encouraged in the Lord.
- Share God’s love with those who don’t know Him. Invite them to church.
- Just a reminder to dads, moms, marriages, students – enjoy the season, celebrate the moments, and be all-in and all-present today. Don’t always be looking back or forward.
#3: Focus on the future, don’t ignore it.
- “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
- The principle here is to not lose sight of the goal.
- You’re probably wondering how we synthesize this: “Maximize the moment, don’t live in the past, and don’t miss the present by looking to the future.” How does this all come together?
- Paul tells us and shows us. Paul was properly related to his present by seeking to maximize every opportunity to be a blessing for His Lord. But he did all of this with his eyes on the prize. His past was forgiven and his present impassioned by living each day knowing that his future was guaranteed. That is why he was able to say in chapter 1, “to live is Christ but to die is gain.” There is no regret, no fear, and no question.
- What about us? How does living today with a focus on the future imbue our life with passion and give us inspired purpose?
- Knowing that Heaven is real compels me to share my faith with others and do everything I can to help get my kids and family there.
- Heaven reminds me that this life is brief and motivates me to honor Christ with the time I have on earth.
- Heaven inspires me to maximize my time with family and other relationships.
- Keeping my eyes on the prize helps me prioritize my life around what matters most: God’s Will/Word and people.
- Keeping my eyes on Heaven inspires me to live holy and godly and pleasing to Him.
We are not of this world. We belong to another world. So, live according to the standards of the Kingdom of God. Make sure your attitudes and actions align with those of Christ. This will drive your purpose and fuel your passion for life. Because in the end, the goal of the Christian is to be like Jesus and to live for Jesus.