Grace For The Journey
What “prize” have you been looking for lately? How are you spending your discretionary time and money? It has been rightly observed that our checkbooks and our free time reveals a great deal about what we value most in life.
The Bible gives us the formula for keeping our eyes on the only prize that matters in life. The Bible says in Philippians 3:13-15, “One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.”
Let’s briefly unpack the Bible’s formula for keeping our eyes fixed on the prize that should be the object of our greatest affection.
- Forgetting what lies behind . . .
On the surface this seems to contradict what God says in other portions of Scripture when He says, “Remember . . . !” So what does God mean here?
Paul is not telling us to forget the past.
He is telling us not to live in the past.
We are to treat the past like a school and take the lessons God would have us learn into our promised future.
Paul is not minimizing a painful past. At some level, this is the reality for all of us simply because we are broken people living in a broken world with other broken people. Yet . . .
God calls us to move beyond our past,
Regardless of the pain,
Aand enter into our promised future
By living fully in His power
And provision in the present.
You will remember that the Bible teaches that Paul’s painful past was marked by his participation in intense persecution of the church; had Paul focused on his past, he would have become a prisoner to it, rather than the man God called to pen most of the New Testament.
- Straining forward . . . press on toward the goal . . .
Forward motion in life is difficult. God made that clear to Adam and Eve after they sinned in the Garden of Eden. Life would be difficult, filled with trouble, trials, and tribulations.
The Bible says in Genesis 3:16-19, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
- The prize . . .
Paul says in spite of our sin and struggles, there is a promised prize that is to be our motivation for moving forward, and it is the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. In other words, Paul is pressing on into the truth of John 10:10 –
The abundant life in Jesus Christ.
God had already saved Paul
And called him to be His own.
Now Paul desires,
More than anything else,
The deepest experience
Of his salvation and union with Christ.
So his life is marked by fixing his eyes on the prize . . . Jesus Christ.
Paul closes out this section of Scripture by identifying those who live this kind of life:
He calls them “mature.”
- Those who are mature do not prize possessions.
- Those who are mature do not prize prosperity.
- Those who are mature do not prize prestige.
- Those who are mature do not prize pleasure.
- Those who are mature prize only one thing: the Prince of Peace.
They organize their lives around the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus rules their hearts and ultimately shapes their lives;
They awake every morning thinking about Jesus. They go throughout their day thinking about Jesus. They retire in the evening thinking about Jesus.
Like Paul, they believe that to live is Christ!
Is this the confession of your life? What has God been revealing to you lately? Are you one of those who Paul identifies as “mature?” Fix your eyes on the only prize that matters – in both life and death – and you will be.
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”