Philippians 3:12-14 reads, “Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do; forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Timanthes was a 4th century B.C. Greek painter from the Greek island of Cythnus, in the Aegean Sea. He was under the tutelage of a famous Greek artist. After several years, the young painter created an exquisite painting. He was thrilled with what he had painted. He would sit in front of it every day gazing at this painting and admiring it.

One morning, he was horrified to discover his teacher had deliberately ruined his painting. Angry and in tears, Timanthes ran to him and asked him why he destroyed the painting. The wise teacher replied, “I did it for your own good. That painting was retarding your progress. It was an excellent piece of art, but it was not perfect. Start again and see if you can do even better.”

Timanthes started again and this time he produced a masterpiece based on the mythological story of King Agamemnon’s sacrifice of his daughter Iphigenia prior to his voyage to Troy. The masterful art work is titled, “Sacrifice of Iphigenia.”  A copy of it was found painted on the wall of a Roman home in the city of Pompeii. It now hangs in the Museum at Naples.

Our lives are in many ways like Timanthes’ first painting. We become comfortable with where we are in the circumstances of our lives. We stop learning, we stop expanding our talents and spiritual gifts, we stop growing more spiritually, we are pleased with our level of Christ-like attributes. We want to sit and admire “the masterpiece” of our Christian life, we have created for ourselves.

And yet God is not done with us. He is not finished creating “His masterpiece” in us! He wants us to reach higher levels of spiritual growth and Christ-likeness. He sees in each of us “a better masterpiece” than what we have now for ourselves. He sees in each of us the potential for a new “magnificent masterpiece” if we stretch ourselves and push ourselves to higher levels of spirituality, commitment, devotion, and Christ-like behavior.

The Apostle Paul understood this. Even though in Christ he was a godly man and did many things for the cause of Christ, he admitted he still had not reached his full potential. He continuously pressed on toward the goal of the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. He did not sit there and admire how far he had come as if that was enough for him. No! He wanted to become even more like Christ in everything and in every way.

Therefore don’t be satisfied with your current level of spirituality. Allow the Lord to move you to higher levels of spiritual growth. With the Lord’s help, “paint another and better masterpiece” with your life! — Tom