It is very satisfying when you are actually able to see and measure progress, isn’t it? Whether it is an assignment at work, cleaning out your closet, or simply a knitting project, there is something about watching the changes that brings a sense of accomplishment. The process of moving toward the completion of a project brings a sense of well-being and gratification. Knowing that it will be finished someday is the ultimate goal.
If you look up the word “progress” in the dictionary, you will find that it means “movement toward a goal, steady improvement or advancement”. It doesn’t seem to matter whether or not the goal is something tangible or invisible, there are a great number of possible deterrents that often come along. There are times when you might get distracted or an unexpected interruption occurs. It may be that you do not have the right tools or enough information to continue to accomplish the next step. Can you think of other obstacles that limit or even stop progress?
In his letter to the Philippians, Paul explains to them that he wants to be with them so that he can continue to encourage each one of them to make progress in their faith journey. He has already explained to them that the goal will not be reached until “ the day of Jesus Christ” – the day when Jesus returns again, but he also longs for them to experience the deep joy that comes with a faith that is growing deeper and stronger, day by day and year by year. Would you agree that very few goals are reached miraculously? Almost all of them are reached through small and deliberate and realistic steps.
So how do you measure your personal progress? Too often we compare ourselves to others or hold up the standard of perfection. The result is a discouraging sense of failure or a depressing feeling that what you desire is impossible to achieve. Paul does not do that, does he? Instead he reminds them at the very beginning of this letter that it is God who will be at work in them. It’s all about trusting Him rather than trying harder! How could this truth impact your progress and joy?