I remember a number of years ago I was having a conversation with a friend and colleague. We weren’t arguing but we weren’t seeing eye to eye. I could tell she wasn’t understanding what I was saying. And at the end of the conversation she said to me, “Well, just ask God and you’ll see.”
It really irked me. Because she positioned herself that God was in her opinion’s side. I didn’t hold it against her and we’re dear friends today, but I didn’t appreciate that sentiment.
So when I come to a Scripture like this one, that conversation comes flashing back to me:
“All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained” (Php 3:15-16).
Was Paul doing the same thing? Telling the Philippians, ‘Hey, if you don’t believe like me it’s just because you’re not as mature as me’?
I really wish Paul would have said this differently, but I have a few thoughts on this.
- Having traveled around the world A LOT, nuances get lost in translation very easily. Often. Language and culture will never be perfectly translated to another person because culture runs so deep. So while it might hit a raw nerve to me, the local culture might not have even blinked.
- Sometimes when you describe people as “mature,” the natural response is for people to put themselves in that category as well. And in so doing they lift themselves up to a greater maturity. This could have been Paul’s gracious way of pointing out what maturity looks like, and calling them to that.
- Perhaps Paul just wanted to give space for people to grow, and was letting them be Ok with that.
I really don’t know. The point though is not to get lost in how he said something so much as what he said. And what he said is that maturity looks like a race in which all we do is focus on winning the prize. And the prize is Jesus.