Philippians 3: 13-14 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Paul in his letter to the Philippians Church encourages the saints to stand fast and trust in the living Savior Jesus Christ. At the time of this epistle he is in Jail in Rome awaiting execution by Nero. Yet he writes to encourage his dear brothers and sisters. Paul was in love with the Philippi ministry. It was dear to his heart, for it was the very first Church plant of his many labors. Paul on his second missionary journey came to Philippi after he saw a vision of a man from Macedonia calling for him to come and help them. It was there that he preached by a riverside and a few women were converted and so the church was born.
Philippi was a pagan city, filled with idol worship. It was a place hostile to the good news of Jesus Christ. It was there that he was thrown into prison and beat for the healing of a girl who suffered from demonic possession. God rescued Paul in Philippi by sending an earthquake to shake the prison walls. So as he writes this letter, it is important for us to remember that Philippi was special, Philippi was sweet it was the church that was so grateful for the work of the Apostle that they supported him in the ministry where ever he went.
Today we have the privilege of reading the jewels that are brother Paul wrote to them, encouraging and exhorting them to trust in the Lord. What makes the Philippians letter so encouraging to me is that here is Paul, one of the great saints of old, on trial in Rome, waiting in a tough situation, yet thinking about others rather than himself. Here he is remembering the saints in Philippi and encouraging them in the Christian race. In fact, one of the metaphors used in this chapter is that of a runner running in a race trying to obtain the prize. Paul in this particular book symbolizes the picture of a good leader. One who is in difficulty yet willing to serve and encourage another. Paul and his sufferings give us a glimpse of Christian leadership in crucial times.
His example of Christian leadership paints a portrait of how it ought to look when we are under fire from a pagan world. His lifestyle brings us a glimpse of the Pastor and his love for the congregation and his desire to see them prosper even while he himself has to suffer.
Today’s text has two points of interest the first is:
- Paul’s Purpose in life
- Paul’s Passion for Christ
Note: Paul was a man who was content with whatever things he had. (4;11) But he could never be content with his spiritual things. While he did not count himself as having arrived, he did see himself as one who was moving somewhere.
Paul’s Purpose in Life
- He learned not to dwell on the past
- He learned to forget the good and the bad
- He learned to keep reaching for what was to come
Dwelling on past sins for the Christian leader can result in a fatalistic mindset for ministry. The enemy pursues the child of God in the mind. Satan continues to remind them of their past failures. (Through people, personalities, events and other methods) In addition to this pursuit Satan wants us to dwell on the success of yesterday, locking us into a visionless mode for tomorrow.
The child of God cannot remain in the success of yester-year we must forget all that we accomplished in the past and reach for what God has for us in the present moment and future.The picture he uses is that of a runner in a race straining forward, leaning with every ounce of his strength to that which is ahead while he is running. Before Paul was the blessed privilege and responsibilities of the Christian life and the higher stages of holiness.Paul in this verse sees himself as a runner pressing toward the goal. He is fixed on finishing and receiving the reward for running well. Here is the picture for the child of God of what the Christian life is all about. It is a race that must be endured through storm, trial, and suffering with purpose and passion. Hidden in this verse we find the secret of his passion in life.
Paul’s Passion in Life
- He was living in pursuit of Christ
- His aim was reaching the mark
I press toward the mark… this is a reference to the white line that marked the ground in the stadium from the starting place to the goal, on which the runners were obliged to keep their eye fixed; for those who transgressed or went beyond this line did not run lawfully, and were not crowned, even though they got first to the goal. They knew he was running lawfully and was watching carefully how he ran the race.
Paul was focused on receiving the prize (The reward which God from above calls us by Christ Jesus, to receive.) “The prize” is the “crown of righteousness.” This is the prize offered to those in the high calling of the saints in Christ. A crown was bestowed in an earthly race when the goal was reached. This prize is “the resurrection from the dead” (Php 3:11) and an eternal crown. The prize of the racer was a crown or garland of olive, laurel, pine, or apple. The prize of the Christian is the crown that is incorruptible in heaven.
When it comes to the high calling of God, there is no greater call, for it is the end or result of that calling. God has called us to great and noble efforts (ministry work). This calling is to a career of true honor and glory; to the obtainment of a bright and imperishable crown. Therefore, it is a calling which is “high,” or upward towards the heavens! The calling of the Christian is from heaven, and to heaven. (Pr 15:24) The servant of God has been summoned by God, through the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, to secure his own personal crown.
- It is placed before and above him in heaven.
- It may be his, if he will not faint or tire, or look backward.
- It demands his highest efforts, and it is worth all the trials and tribulations that come his way.
Encourage yourself today, and keep pressing toward the high calling of Christ Jesus! “Run Baby Run.”