“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. 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 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 3:10-14).
There is no doubt that Paul was very serious when he pens these words. He is not just talking to talk. Paul is intentionally passionate about these words. Paul has prayed and he is in the prison and he has reflected over his life. Paul is not just saying these to say, you can feel the conviction in his words, both the ethos and pathos in his statement. Paul is saying, “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.” In other words, there is something in Paul that causes him to lead forward and to move forward and there is a power in Paul that is driving him. I think that power which is driving him or pushing him is passion. Passion is what determines if we thrive or if we just survive. Passion is the power you feel that comes from what excites you, passion is what causes you to catch a glimpse of your potential. What is it in your life that you are passionate about? What is it in the kingdom of God that you are passionate about? There is no doubt that Paul is passionate about Jesus, he is passionate about preaching- he says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16).
Paul says, I want to know Christ. Why is that important? Because if you don’t know Christ you won’t be able to deal with haters, and if you don’t know Christ you won’t be able to deal with heart breakers, and if you don’t know Christ you won’t be able to deal with demons or disappointments, if you don’t know Christ you won’t have power in your life. You can be Christians and be powerless unless you know Jesus the Christ. If there is no power in your life you won’t know how to handle things which brings tears to your eyes. If you don’t know Christ, you will leave in defeat and never ever be able to come to grips with your pain. One of the reasons believers suffer today because we became passionate about the wrong things.
What is your ultimate goal in life? What you are moving towards every day? For some this is undefined, we don’t know where we headed. Others, our current goal don’t line up with the beliefs that we say we have. Not understanding what our goal is can lead to frustration and dissatisfaction. If we have a complete answer to this defining question it can really clarify how we should act and respond to the situation which we find ourselves in. For Paul the answer to this question is crystal clear. In verse 13-14 he says, “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.”
Paul had a clear view of his goal because he had a clear view of his call. God has a plan for each and everyone of us and we will find the most satisfaction in life when we begin to live out that plan. When our goal for our lives matches God’s goal for our lives, it is powerful. We can have a firm grip on our purpose and meaning for our lives. In verse 12 we can see that Paul has not attained perfection. We need to understand this that we are all sinners and once we put our faith and trust in Christ for salvation, we don’t immediately become these super Christians, we are on a journey of faith and we are constantly growing. It is dangerous to begin to believe that we somehow have attained a higher status than others. This lead down a road of all kind of judgmental thinking. Paul said he is not there yet, but he is continually pushing forward. This is so important; he is intentionally moving toward his God given goal. Faith by nature is active, we must begin to act on the core beliefs that we possess and press towards the goals that God has given for us. He hasn’t grasped it yet, but he says, “but this one thing I do forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.”
Paul had come a long way. He had come from being a killer of Christians to a planter of Churches. He had seen the hand of God move in a mighty way. But he looks at those things and he doesn’t want to just live in the past, he wants to keep moving forward. We can get caught up in all that God had done for us in the past and get complacent on moving forward in our lives as well. It’s great to remember and to be thankful for all God has done but we can’t stop pressing on because we are enamored with the past. Having a God given goal gives us motivation to keep moving forward. Keeping that goal in view keeps us from becoming complacent. The race isn’t over, there is still so much to be done. The big idea here is that the kinds of goals we are talking about are not just normal things that we like to accomplish in life. We are talking about the kind of goals that come from the calling of God, these goals mirrored God’s goals for you and are part of His plan.
What passions has God placed deep in your heart? What are the desires that will fit the character of God? One way to make sure that you are following God’s plan instead of selfish desire is to look how those goals fit the character and purposes of God Himself. Do those goals reflect love toward people? Do they reflect God’s heart to redeem the lost? Do they engage, encourage and equip people to live Godly lives? Once you find your God given goal, pursue it with everything that you have. Activate your faith and press on toward the mark.