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Friday, March 19, 2010

Keep Your Eye on the Prize

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.
(Philippians 3:12-14)

If any of you have felt discouraged, unfocused, or weary in your journey, this verse is for you. We are encouraged and inspired to stay in the race and keep our eyes on Jesus as we strive forward, not letting our past drag us down, while at the same time, realizing soberly that we have not yet arrived . . .

We have not yet arrived. The first thing Paul points out is something most of us are painfully aware of every day: that we have not yet arrived. Does anyone feel like they have arrived? Most likely, none of you feel that way. And you are in good company. Because remember in this verse, who is talking? This is the apostle Paul talking about becoming like Christ. And as devoted as Paul was to spreading the gospel- sometimes at almost any cost, here he is admitting that even he hasn't arrived. And if Paul in all of his devotion and dedication to spreading the gospel hasn't arrived, what does that say about the rest of us? It is important that we not get discouraged about not having arrived. Especially when the going gets tough.

Our Goal. And regarding our goal, what does it say in verse 12: "but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me." This is important to remember. Why are we doing all that we are doing in our lives? To fulfill the purpose for which Christ has taken hold of us. We aren't here by accident, and we aren't here to accomplish random acts. God isn't surprised that we are right where we are in life, because His plan is perfect. We are encouraged in this passage to take hold of that for which Christ took hold of us. Even when things don't seem to be going our way, we have the promise that everything will work out for our good (Romans 8:28).

Forgetting what is behind. Verses 13-14 tell us to forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead, "pressing on toward our goal to win the prize." This doesn't mean forget the past, and it doesn't mean don't learn from the past, it just means don't live in the past. Don't let the past be an anchor that weighs you down. The enemy would like to remind you of every bad thing you ever did. Don't fall for that! Your sins are forgiven and forgotten now that you have accepted Christ. Conversely don't rest on past accomplishments, but strive to look forward to continue to grow, and as this verse says, strain towards what is ahead.

Be patient and don't get discouraged. None of us have arrived but what we all have in common, is that Christ has taken a hold of us and inspired us to have faith and look forward to what is ahead. Let us all work toward this common goal, together.

Lord, help me to focus on you, and not get bogged down by my past or by the challenges of my current circumstances. Instill in me the faith to trust that you have great plans for me. When I put my trust in you I allow myself to persevere in the great race of life, motivated by your promise of eternal life in you at the finish line.

~ With thanks to Brent McBurney, Director of Attorney Ministries, Christian Legal Society

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