7But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 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. Philipians 3:7-14
In a matter of days, the world will watch as the nations compete for the top spot in various events in the 2012 Olympics. There are many different events, but athletes, coaches, teams, families all expectantly wait to hear their National Anthems being played in celebration of a victory. Much preparation has taken place, and very soon, we will all get to see the fruits of their labour.
Athletes are expected to win. Many will compete in a race, but for the most part, only one will take home the coveted first place prize. The one who displays ‘excellence in performance’ will likely be rewarded with the top prize. Attaining this requires rising above the competition, and in some cases, executing routines almost flawlessly. Verse 7 picks up from Paul’s explanation of showing how he was faultless based on the standards he defined. Having listed his ‘credentials’, he goes on to show how all of his attainments stack up against what he believes a relationship with God could bring about. He had now come into the understanding that there was something greater that what he had achieved, and he had purposed in his heart to press onwards to this goal.
Like the athletes in the Olympics, we have a drive to give our best so we can obtain the prize. One false start, one unsynchronized movement, or one missed goal can mean the difference between obtaining a medal or going home empty-handed. Yet, quite unlike the athletes in the Olympics, we all have the opportunity to ‘win’. The prize is for ‘whomsoever will’ and ‘whomsoever believeth’, but at the same time, we have to develop discipline and focus. Gaining the prize is not an automatic occurrence, but it requires “forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead.” In other words, it requires effort on our part.
A well-trained, well-disciplined athlete knows how to recognize issues they struggle with, and get expert help in working around these problems. As Christians, the beams in our own eyes may block our views of what needs to be rectified in our own lives, but we have access to the greatest Coach ever! We most certainly will never attain on our own, but His master plan puts the prize within our reach. Are we ready to run for it?
Inventory/Introspection: Have I discovered His purpose for my life in this day and time? Have I lived with this life goal in sight?
Personal Application: I will trust the guidance of the one with limitless strength and endurance to order my steps as “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”.
Father, we are thankful that Your grace abounds, that You are the God who gives second (and third and more) chances, and that You do not disqualify us when nervousness or anxiety causes us to make ‘false starts’ or step out of line. We are grateful that You still love us enough to forgive our errors as you guide us back to the right path.
May we never take Your love for granted, but may the way You care for us motivate us to fix our eyes on the prize as we follow in Your footprints. We know we cannot make it on our own, so we choose to trust You to lead.
While the matter of the Olympiad can be used as a tool to help us focus, we are aware that there are athletes who refuse to put anyone above You. We pray that You will cover and overshadow them as they participate in this event, and may their lives be shining examples to the glory of Your name. When all is said and done, the only “well done” that matters is the one that comes from You.
Except where indicated, Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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