Biblical Optimism Philippians 3:1-16

Kent Bailey

Northside Anchor Bulletin. Sunday, December 24, 2017. Northside Church of Christ, Calhoun, GA. Ron Hall, editor.
Paul, the apostle of Christ, was a great gospel preacher and defender of the New Testament faith. In consideration of his life and the sacrifices for the cause of truth, he had a great deal with which to contend and to cause depression. In 2 Corinthians 1:5-11 we read of Paul’s trials:

For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffered; or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope of   you is steadfast, knowing that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation. For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life; but we had the sentence of death in ourselves that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: In whom we trust that he will yet deliver us. Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.

In view of our text in Philippians 3:1-16 in conjunction with Paul’s writing in 2 Corinthians 1:5-11, we can have a true insight into Paul’s thinking. No doubt he was a person of tremendous optimism. Over the past years we have heard much about optimism. However, often times such has been perverted by the cult of Positive Thought. These individuals have a twisted view of optimism rejecting the reality of things negative and living in a dream land that promotes an unrealistic view of life.

The concept of optimism is certainly taught in the scriptures. When we examine the life of Paul, especially his inspired words as recorded in Philippians  3:1-6, one will readily note that Paul’s optimism was not that which was based exclusively on that of idealism—the formation of high ideals and living under such influences. Certainly we need to have high ideals that conform to the word of God. However our optimism needs to also be based upon that of realism, where universals exist outside the mind itself. Biblical Optimism is thus high ideals based upon objective truth and reality which causes one to understand the problems we must face in real life. Let us note some specifics as to how to promote Biblical Optimism both individually as Christians and collectively in the local New Testament church.

We must be willing to bury our past failures. By making personal wrong choices we have sinned against God. Non-Christians need to obey the gospel of Christ and receive God’s divine forgiveness. Fallen sinning brethren need to repent and be restored to Christ (Romans 3:23; 6:23; Acts 2:38; 8:22). We cannot change the past (Joshua 1:1-9; Daniel 1). However we can learn from the past (1 Corinthians 10:11).

We can look to the future Christians must make the firm decision to run the race that is before us (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). We must:

  • Run the race to obtain the crown.
  • Run the race and strive for mastery to be temperate in all things.
  • Both run the race and fight with all diligence.
  • Run the race to keep our bodies in subjection.
  • Recognize that even though we preach the truth to others we can be rejected ourselves and be lost in eternity.
  • No one today has completed this race—Hebrews 12:1; 1 Corinthians 15:58; Romans 8:28-31.

We must focus on God’s plan for our lives. Such necessitates being submissive to the authority of the New Testament pattern (Colossians 3:17; 2 John 9-11). From a positive perspective we must remember what we can and must do: We must live godly lives (1 Peter 4:1-6); worship in spirit and truth (John 4:23-34); and work the works of God with all of our hearts and might (1 Corinthians 15:58).

We must put our ultimate and complete trust in God. When we speak of trust we speak with reference regarding total faith, confidence, and reliance. We must walk by such faith (2 Corinthians 5:17). Recognize that God has the power to make all things new (Revelation 21:5). Remember that the Christian’s final reward will not be realized until eternity in Heaven (Philippians 4:13; John 15:4-8; Hebrews 12:28).

Be thankful for the autonomy and independence of the local church. Whereas all of those saved comprise the church in its universal extension. The only way the church can collectively function is through the independent local church (1 Peter 5:1-4).

Work for Christ as if this year will be our last on earth. Let us never forget that in comparison to eternity, life is only a very short period of time. We are not promised tomorrow. What we accomplish for the cause of truth must be accomplished now. To have both knowledge and opportunity to accomplish such and to fail to act in the accomplishment of such is indeed sinful (James 4:13-15).

May we strive to the best of our ability to see the importance of Biblical Optimism.

Northside Anchor Bulletin. Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019. Northside Church of Christ, Calhoun, GA. Ron Hall, editor.

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