The Key to Pressing On
Day: 19 | Plan: Christ Alone
Today’s Reading: Philippians 3:12-21
Philippians 3:13b (NIV) “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.”
Ask any small child where you can find a cheerleader, and I feel sure they will tell you at a football game or a basketball game, not in prison.
And yet, prison is exactly what I associate with one of the most powerful voices of encouragement I’ve ever known in my life – the voice of Paul. The voice God has used time and time again to cheer me on – reminding me that God’s not done with me yet (Philippians 1:6), encouraging me to keep my ego in check (Philippians 2:3) and telling me God will equip me and empower me to live for Him. (Philippians 2:13)
I find his words in Philippians 3:13-16 especially stirring: “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. All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.”
What needed and powerful words. Because we all run into days where pressing on feels like it might be our undoing. Times when the cost of following Jesus turns out to be higher than we ever expected. Seasons where the things the Lord asks us to walk away from leave us wrestling deeply with whether or not we will cave to the demands of our flesh or respond to the upward call of Christ.
Thankfully, Paul is the perfect person to encourage us and offer us hope. With words he penned from the confines of prison, he assures us of two truths every believer must cling to:
1. Jesus is worth suffering for.
I realize the verses we read yesterday about suffering can be, quite honestly, a bit terrifying. The ones where Paul declares he wants to participate in Christ’s suffering and become like Him in His death and resurrection. (Philippians 3:10-11) Because who wants to sign up for pain?
But those words from yesterday set the stage for the call we see Paul issuing today — the call to press on. They remind us that an intimate relationship with Christ on earth and the promise of a heavenly home with Him, where even our bodies will be fully transformed, are worth any suffering we may endure along the way. (Philippians 3:20-21) We have both “here and now” hope and heavenly hope.
We also have the gift of a Savior who willingly suffered for us. Paul states in Philippians 3:12 that Christ “took hold of” him. Jesus pursued Paul before Paul ever pursued Him — willingly humbling Himself to the point of death on the cross to secure Paul’s salvation. Knowing this transformed all of Paul’s ambitions, hopes and desires. I believe remembering the great lengths Christ went to for us will forever change the lengths we are willing to go to for Him.
Which leads to the second truth:
2. Jesus is worth sacrificing for.
The people of Philippi were being led astray by those who were falsely teaching that grace means you can simply follow the dictates of your own heart. But Paul encouraged believers to hold their ground and keep living holy lives. (Philippians 3:16)
His words came with the strong warning that living a life ruled by anything or anyone other than Jesus equates to living as an enemy of the cross. Hard, but needed, words that remind us we must willingly lay down anything that gets in the way of our wholehearted pursuit of Christ.
This is why Paul calls every believer to follow his example in pursuing Christ. He beseeches us to take our eyes off earthly things and continue making every effort to press toward the goal which is found in Christ — something that becomes fully possible when we fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. The One who for the joy set before Him endured the cross and now sits at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
Paul longs for us to know that this is how we press on. This act of fixing our eyes and our hope on Jesus is how we press through pain and persecution. It is how we find the strength to lay down anything that hinders us from knowing Christ and living for Him. It is where we find the motivation to move forward with faith and hope.
Yes. Christ must become our goal. Christ must be our prize. And the joy of Him set before us will compel us to keep going, keep running, keep living lives fully surrendered to Him.
Prayer: Precious Father, thank You for reminding me that my citizenship is in heaven. This world, with all of its temptations and pain and struggles, is not my home. Help me to keep pressing on while I am here. I want the power that raised Your Son from the dead to flow in me and through me, enabling me to run this race with strength, hope and joy. I want to live a life that continually declares that You and You alone are my soul’s greatest desire and my life’s sweetest pursuit. In Jesus’ name, amen.
The language Paul uses in today’s passage about “forgetting what is behind and... Read More
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