"Only let us live up to what we have already attained." (NIV)
At first glance this sounds pretty easy, doesn't it? Just live up to what you've already attained. Although this is a reference to the races commonly run in those days, when Paul wrote this in his letter to the Christians at Philippi, he was referring to their spiritual condition, not physical. But, just as in physical well-being, spiritual exercise is necessary to live up to a level already attained. To keep our spiritual muscles tones we need prayer, Bible study, fellowship with other Christians, and honest self-evaluation. To protect our muscles we require the daily application of the armor of God:
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Ephesians 6:12-17 (KJV)
Additionally, we need the courage to speak when the Lord instructs us to do so. All of this enables us to do our jobs as ambassadors for Christ. We, like Paul, should be striving to be mature in Christ, keeping the spiritual knowledge we have, yet learning more and more from life's experiences... At this point you might be thinking, "Well, that's easy for you to say... You haven't been through what I've been through." No, but, everybody has been through their own pain; every life has its' heartbreaks. And, fact is, we can really learn from life's painful lessons. With physical exercise, repeatedly flexing a set of muscles causes temporary pain, but results in increased strength. Spiritual muscles are often strengthened through life's trials...
Years ago I attended a church where the Pastor admitted he really liked to play golf. Sometimes he would use references to golf as analogies in his sermons. Since I don't play golf, these analogies had to be pretty basic or I would miss the point. But, I do like this little story about golf balls: When they first manufactured golf balls they made the covers smooth. Then it was discovered that after a ball had been roughed up, the player could get more distance out of it. So, they started manufacturing the golf balls with dimpled covers. So it is with life... It takes some rough spots in your life to make you go your farthest. So, put on your spiritual armor, perform your spiritual exercises, and live up to what you have already attained... regardless of - or, maybe because of - the rough spots in your life.