- “Not that I have
already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order
that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ
Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but
one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what
lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of
God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14).
Solomon said, “The end of a thing is better than its beginning”
(Ecclesiastes 7:8). Is that the way we feel about life itself? It ought to
be! And that is true even if life here is great. It may be, but faith says
the life to come is better.
There are several metaphors for how we feel about life in the hymns we sing.
One hymn speaks of “laying our burdens down” but another says,
“I'd like to stay here longer than man's allotted days.” Interestingly,
either one may be true in a Christian's life at different times. As a basic
metaphor for life, many people choose between the following:
1. Life is a problem: it is a burden that we wish to lay down. It is a harsh
ordeal through which we must go. It is a “rat race” which we so look
forward to being over. Do we anticipate the end of life as merely the end of
the struggle and the difficulties of this life and this world??
2. Life is an opportunity: it is a growth process. It is doable and we can
be successful at it. There is a reachable goal and no righteous step we take
toward it is wasted. Life's events, good and bad, have their purpose and
meaning, even when we cannot discern what they are. Do we think of life as a
wonderful gift that moves us ever closer to something even better?
Which of these two perspectives we choose has a big impact on the quality of
our lives. While it is easy to allow ourselves during the dark days of trial
to be overwhelmed by the first perspective, it is the second perspective
that the Lord would prefer we have.
The Scriptures deal much with heart and attitude. It is important because
our attitude about how to approach the end of life will greatly effect how
we live each day. Only when we think that no righteous effort on any dark
day will be wasted will our lives take on the character and strength they
ought to have. We will have the strength to “press on toward the goal for
the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Our text teaches several things. Consider them, as we acknowledge that we
are headed toward something worth having.
Our Goal is Worth It!
The word “goal” means “end, outcome, culmination, the purpose
toward which something moves”. The Scriptures teach that the “goal”
or “end result” of our being freed from sin and living as faithful
disciples serving Christ is “eternal life.” (Romans 6:20-23).
However, the end result of a life of sin results in living free from
righteousness… we get to live how we want to… free! Great! But not as great
as Satan would like us to believe because the outcome is eternal death.
Our confidence that we can reach our goal keeps us reaching until we have
it. We must “hold fast” to our confidence until the end (Hebrews
Salvation is the goal of our faith; (1 Peter 1:9). Peter writes,
“obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.“
Understand that Christianity is a goal-oriented way of life. We must daily
keep our eyes on Jesus, who also was “goal oriented” as He lived His
life; “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding
us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily
entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy
set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at
the right hand of the throne of God“ (Hebrews 12:1,2).
“Good” is not Enough When We Can Have the “Best”
By nature, we strive to grow, to make progress, to work toward goals (2
Peter 1:5-8). We need to have significant goals in the daily living of life
as Christians. It is quite inadequate to have goals such as “Get up and go
to church” because the Lord expects so much more of us than that.
Often our goals are not big enough - we underestimate what is possible and
have too little vision or faith or commitment (Philippians 3:11-13). Many of
our limitations are put there by ourselves. This is true whenever and
wherever the Lord says, “I want you to do this.” and we respond “I
At other times our goals are too general and vague. “I'm going to do
better.” is a worthy goal, but too vague. What will it take to “do
better”? What will it take to go beyond the mediocre and excel? (2
Corinthians 13:5; James 1:4,5). Concerning my life before God as a father,
mother, husband, wife, child, member of the body… Let the goals be so high
that they're impossible, because with God even the impossible becomes
possible. There's an old saying, “Aim low and you'll hit your target.”
We need to aim high and require more of ourselves, not less.
Why We Can Achieve the
Best and Reach the Goal
Because Jesus, the “Beginning and the End” is the cause of our hope,
we are certain of victory that comes by faith (Revelation 22:13). Because
Jesus died for our reconciliation we have confidence (Colossians 1:16,17).
We, in Christ, overwhelm the adversary and crush his weapons (Romans 8:1;
31-39). “If God be for us, who can be against us?”
It is the Lord who says to His faithful children, “Here is your goal; I
am with you; nothing is impossible for Me!”
Though life's ultimate goal is reachable, and God has seen to it that we can
win the victory, it is not automatic. Paul said he had not obtained it yet,
but that he continued to press on so that he could. So, what is your vision?
What is your life all about? What is it that you are reaching for today?
“Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but
I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid
hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid
hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching
forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the
upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14).
Based on outline by Gary Henry
From The Bradley Banner 5/15/2005
Published by the Bradley Church of Christ
1505 E. Broadway
Bradley, IL 60915