Short Thought continued.....
‘Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal,
but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.
But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead,
I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which
God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.’
(Philippians 3:12-14 NIV)
The beginning of a new year is a natural time to reflect on ‘what is behind’ us and ‘what is ahead’.
Paul had many reasons for wanting to forget what was behind him.
For him, the past had held ‘confidence in the flesh’, pride in his status,
persecuting Christians and the church, and ‘legalistic righteousness’ (Philippians 3:4-6).
Paul had been seeking earthly prizes and rewards which had brought
destruction, gluttony, shame, and present satisfaction and gratification (3:19).
Having encountered the resurrected Jesus Christ (Acts 9),
Paul’s desire shifted to focusing on what was ahead of him.
Having found and gained Christ, Paul was in awe of ‘the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus’.
He had come to respect Christ’s righteousness and believe in ‘the power of his resurrection’ (3:8-10).
He had obtained insight and knowledge through faith given to him by Jesus Christ.
Whilst Paul had grasped all this, he knew that there was even more to come.
He had not yet taken hold of the prize or arrived at the end goal.
There was a race still to be run, a prize still to be won and a finishing line to cross.
What’s the prize?
‘Citizenship in heaven’ and a ‘glorious resurrection body’ (3:20-21).
Paul had an eternal ‘Heavenwards’ perspective.
Until the prize had been won,
he would strain ‘towards what is ahead’ and ‘press on towards the goal’.
He would ‘run with perseverance the race that is set before us,
looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith’ (Hebrews 12:1-2 NRSV).
Having a ‘Heavenwards’ perspective shifts our desires from present needs,
satisfactions and gratification to reverence for Christ Jesus our Lord.
For the present moment, we live in and for Him.
And we press on to take hold of the more which awaits us.
As you reflect on ‘what is behind’ you and ‘what is ahead’:
How do Paul’s words challenge, inspire and encourage you?
What do you gain by focusing on ‘what is ahead’ and to the ‘Heavenwards’?
What will help you to press on and run with perseverance?