Philippians 3:10-14: The Purpose Driven Life

I recently bought myself the latest must-have luxury in-car accessory – a travel mug. Vacuum sealed, I could enjoy my favourite hot drink for an entire journey. Knowing I would be driving quite a bit that week I decided to give it a whirl on my way to a day conference at Oak Hill College. I decided to baptize it with some really strong Arabic coffee with cardamom seeds purchased in Jerusalem. High in caffeine there is nothing that will kick-start you faster in the mornings.

The aroma itself is quite intoxicating – in an entirely legal sort of way. In the stop-go traffic of the M25 I began to enjoy the fragrant aroma of my Arabic coffee with cardamon seeds. With around a hundred or so other clergy attending from right across England I had decided that on such an important day I should wear one of my nicest jackets, a white shirt and brown trousers.  I did indeed make quite an impression. Unfortunately I discovered belatedly that the momentum of driving in one direction can cause liquid refreshments to drive in another direction. While I did indeed enjoy the taste of some of the coffee, some of it also left me with really quite impressive coffee stain down my white shirt as well. It could easily have been mistaken for dried blood from a wood chopping incident had it not been for the fragrant aroma of Arabic coffee with cardamom seeds. My lesson for the day? Everyone could tell I had been driving, and not very well.

Everyone of us is driven by something. Is it as obvious to everyone else as a coffee stain? What is driving your life? Is it fear? Is it anger? Is it remorse? Is it ambition? The desire to please? The accumulation of possessions?  A few years ago we examined what the scriptures teach about the Purpose Driven Life. We saw why Rick Warren’s book has become so popular.  Rick identifies five main purposes that God intends to be a driving force in our life.

1.We were planned for God’s pleasure – to know him and love him;

2.We were formed for God’s family – to find a home and family;

3.We were created to become like Christ – with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control;

4.We were shaped for serving God – with a unique mix of talents, skills and passion; and

5.We were made for a mission – to introduce other people to God’s five purposes for their lives too.

Without a God-given purpose to shape our life, we become driven by destructive influences for we are all motivated by something. Here are three of the most common forces that drive people. People are:

1.Driven by Guilt and Fear

Many people are unable or unwilling to forget what lies behind. They are unable to hide from their past. The Apostle Paul had every reason not to forget his past either. As we saw last week, he writes, “As for zeal, persecuting the church” (Philippians 3:6). He had hunted down Christians, he had supervised their arrest. He had prosecuted them and even approved their execution. “Guilt-driven people are manipulated by their memories” so that “their past controls their future”. But even though “we are products of our past” … “we don’t have to be prisoners of it.”  God’s purpose is not limited by our past. His purposes are not neutralized by the mess we make of life.

God promised through Jeremiah to his wayward people, “For I know the plans I have for you … plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11). God is concerned with your future not your past. Without a God-given purpose for the future many people are driven by guilt & fear from the past. That is why Paul insists, ”Forgetting what is behind … I press on toward the goal.” (Philippians 3:13). We must forget the past and look to the future.  Secondly, many people are:

2. Driven by Anger and Resentment

Holding on to hurts is incredibly destructive. If we don’t forgive and forget, we will remember and resent. “Resentment driven people either ‘clam up’ and internalize their anger or ‘blow up’ and shower others with the fall-out.” Anger always hurts.  Paul writes with sadness about some who were once friends:

“For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction…” (Philippians 3:18-19).

If we do not forgive, Jesus warns, God will not forgive us. Forgiveness is at the heart of the gospel – it is the purpose of the cross. To not forgive is to turn our backs on Jesus and what he has done for us. In Philip Yancey’s book What’s so Amazing about Grace? he writes “Not to forgive imprison