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 3:13-14-NIV).
None of us will arrive at Christian perfection in this life, but it should be our goal! We should be changing from glory to glory as the years pass. If we’re not changing, we’re not growing, for growth demands change.
Paul mentions in verse 13 that he did one thing. Too many times we have so many life pursuits that we become a “jack of all trades and master of none.” If my one life ambition is to become like Jesus, it will temper my hour, my day, my week, and my year! Some things should be left undone if they do not add to my growth in Christ. Growing in Christ in a healthy way includes daily time meditating in the Word, in prayer, with spouse and children, in service to others, and in personal rest and leisure. Burnout is not progress.
As we enter a new year we should follow Paul’s admonition to forget those things which are behind. If you look back, you may stumble. Satan is master of bringing to remembrance our misdeeds and failures. The Father never reminds of past confessed sins; I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more (Isaiah 43:25 – NIV). His Spirit urges us on toward the mark of becoming like Jesus. He lifts us up and faces us forward, not backwards! For though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity (Proverbs 24:16).
Likewise, we can’t live on yesterday’s or last year’s experience with God. We must choose each day to remain in close fellowship with Him by abiding in the Word and letting the Word abide in us.
Paul mentions pressing on in verse 14. This denotes great exertion. I’ve been running for 25 years now, and when you run long distances, you hit the wall, or reach a point where you feel like you just can’t go any further. But if you just press on a little more, you find a second wind, or a new strength, and the run becomes much easier. Salvation is a free gift to us. But each level of spirituality reach will cost you self-denial in a thousand ways. We must press on more than average if we want to give our best to the Father.
As we approach 2009, let’s forget the past and decide to give the Father our all. The prize awaiting us is eternal!