Philippians 1:25 (NIV84)
25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith,
When we read something like this, we tend to think about this verse: "Grow in your life with God." I certainly agree with that interpretation or application, but is that all? Is there more to be uncovered? Is this talking about faith or progress? I invite you to look a little deeper and think slower, chewing on what this could mean for our lives besides growing with God.
What does that mean if we are thinking about the "faith" aspect of the verse, which is certainly the context? What is progressing in your faith? Is it studying the Bible more? Is it praying more? Is it going to church more? Whether it is money, time, or any other resource, is it giving more? Paul is talking about remaining on the earth rather than departing to heaven so that people would progress in their faith and have joy in their faith. We will leave joy for another time. What kind of progress is he talking about? Is it sinning less? Is it having more knowledge of the Bible? Is it having more joy? Does it have to do with the fruits of the Spirit showing or the gifts of the Spirit in operation? What does this progress look like?
The word progress means "a movement forward to an improved state, progress, advancement, furtherance." Are you moving forward, or are you stuck? Maybe you are content to be where you are in life. After all, doesn't the Word talk about being content in all things? Can you progress and be content? Is he speaking of the same idea? Speaking of all things, does your faith touch all areas of your life or only faith on a spiritual level?
Stagnation, regression, and comfort seem to be an enemy of progress. Let's think about our life as a whole and evaluate it with the word or concept of progress. How is your marriage? Is it progressing? How are your relationships with your kids and grandkids if you have them? Are they moving to an improved state? How is your soul's well-being? Are your automatic thoughts and emotional regulation advancing to a better place? Are your stress levels reducing? Are your finances furthering you and God's mission in your life? It is easy to read over a seemingly resolving verse to Paul's heart conundrum without thinking about it much. It is easier to memorize and move on than to stop, think, pray, receive grace, and move forward in whatever area God challenges you.
You are meant to move forward until "it is finished." You were meant to go from victory to victory in the faith, which has applications for our spirit, soul, and body. You are meant to access the inheritance God has already given you long before you receive heaven's reward. When you move forward to an improved state, you will have the most joy because that is how we are meant to live. Do not settle for doing "okay." A train that stops moving becomes a museum or rusts in the train graveyard. You have life left to live and are modeling for the generation after you. Keep going! The progress in every area of life is yours to attain.