Straining toward the goal

Straining Toward the Goal

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14)

Straining, pressing, racing, it all gets tiring. Sounds a lot different than the mystical notion of ‘let go and let God’ doesn’t it! Christianity is active. We study, pray, battle the flesh, exhort, preach, build up, and more. Here Paul is saying we must not give up!

The road might seem long but in the end we will look back from our vantage point in heaven and say, ‘that was but a vapor, our life on earth was but a mist of a moment.’ Even this evening I was looking at the Facebook photos of the 8th grade semi-formal dance going on now, and I see handsome and tall young men and lovely ladies who I knew in kindergarten. Their parents write captions such as ‘time slow down’ and ‘where did the time go, he was a baby just yesterday’.

The road might seem long but it’s really short, just over the next rise could come glory

Keep up the good work, sisters, of praying and working for Christ and raising young ‘uns and submitting and worshiping and battling and singing and phew, hang in there!

Here is a bit of encouragement from The Bible Knowledge Commentary,

3:12–14. Though Paul was a spiritual giant in the eyes of the Philippian saints, he wanted them to know that he had not yet attained the goals stated in verse 10. He was still actively pressing on toward them. He had by no means reached the final stage of his sanctification.

Paul’s salvation experience had taken place about 30 years before he wrote to the Philippians. He had won many spiritual battles in that time. He had grown much in those years, but he candidly confessed he had not obtained all this, nor was he yet made perfect (v. 12). He still had more spiritual heights to climb. This testimony of the apostle reminded the saints at Philippi—and it serves to remind believers today—that there must never be a stalemate in their spiritual growth or a plateau beyond which they cannot climb.

Paul pursued Christlikeness with the enthusiasm and persistence of a runner in the Greek games. Unlike the Judaizers, whose influence was prevalent among the Philippians, the apostle did not claim to have attained spiritual maturity. He was still pressing on, pursuing that for which Christ Jesus took hold of him. Nor had he yet taken hold of it, that is, he had not yet attained perfection or ultimate conformity to Christ. But he was determined that he would forget the past and, like a runner, press on toward the goal. Paul refused to be controlled or absorbed by his past heritage (vv. 5–7) or his attainments (v. 8).

Vigorously and with concentration Paul sought to win the prize to which God had called him heavenward (v. 14). Again the Greek games must have been on his mind as he wrote of the prize. The winner in those games was called to the place where the judge sat in order to receive his prize. Paul may have referred to ultimate salvation in God’s presence, or to receiving rewards at “the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Cor. 5:10).

Lightner, R. P. (1985). Philippians. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 661). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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