So is there a way to look at the heart and know? Yes! Scripture tells exactly what to look for. Check out what Paul wrote to the church in Philippi, "Take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you." Isn't that awesome! I just have to compare a person with the pattern Paul gave us and I'll know! And Paul actually encouraged us to notice these people. Are you excited? Oh wait... Maybe I should tell you Paul's pattern. That might help. These are the preceding verses:
"I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him... I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death... Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus..."
Now that is a long passage. Maybe you even skipped reading it. That's okay, because Paul's pattern is a summary of this passage. So, are you ready to see this pattern? A Christian should be able to confidently agree with the pattern. It says:
- I consider everything a loss compared to knowing Christ Jesus as my Lord
- I want to know Christ
- I haven't already obtained all this or been made perfect
- I press on to take hold of that which Christ Jesus has given me
- I forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead
I believe a strong Christian's lifestyle should mirror this pattern. Don't you agree? This is how we are to know! This is what my strong Christian friends should look like. Noticing those who live this way isn't judgemental. Of course, we must allow room for mistakes. Duh, the third point is that we aren't perfect! But Paul wrote that this is what Christians look like.
We need to notice those who match the pattern. We need their companionship, mentorship, and accountability. I encourage you to compare those in your life to this pattern. If their lifestyle is opposite or contradictory to many or all of this pattern, you ought to seriously consider their salvation or lack thereof. Paul has given us this pattern to see where a person find his identity, his value, his worth. Use this pattern; don't hesitate! See who your fellow Christians are.