Reading: Philippians 3:2-12

Reflection: Today’s reading is one Paul’s most profound and important teachings. The letter to the Philippians was written near the end of Paul’s life while he was in prison. As he looks back over his life, the apostle notes how he had worked to become righteous in his own strength. He had obeyed the law as perfectly as possible, and he had based his sense of worth on this “perfection”. But, when he met Christ, he realized that all of his legal purity was worthless.

Rather, in Christ we know a “righteousness that is not our own” – the forgiveness of God, and the life of trust in God’s grace and strength. In this sense, our faith-filled life is a gift that we cannot earn or deserve. But then Paul explains that part of this new life is about sharing both in the power of Christ’s resurrection and in the pain of Christ’s suffering. It’s not about “arriving” at a legal purity. It’s about pursuing life and goodness with passion and determination so that we embody Christ’s life and mission a little more each day.

In this sense, our life of faith is one of striving and hard work. The point is that we do not gain Christ’s life through our striving. Rather, once we have received Christ’s life through grace, we are empowered to strive to become like Jesus. This is the work of Lent – accepting God’s grace and committing to the journey of becoming Christlike. Today, how can you open yourself to God’s grace, and commit to striving to be faithful to God?

Practice for Today: Legalistic striving always flows out of a sense of need and scarcity. When we believe that we are not enough – not good enough, pure enough, strong enough, courageous enough, or perfect enough – we try to impose “enoughness” on ourselves through law. The practice of thanksgiving counters this and reminds us that the gift of God’s grace and life makes us enough. Why not allow thanksgiving to liberate you from legalism today?

Prayer for Today: For your grace that heals me, and your strength that inspires and sustains me, I give you thanks, O God.

Communion with Christ

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