“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” – Philippians 3: 13-14 NLT
What is the motivation for your life? What drives you to keep going? For the Apostle Paul, his greatest motivating factor was not traveling, making more money, planting churches or preaching to large crowds. His motivation was an unrelenting desire to grower deeper in his relationship to Christ and honor him with his life.
Nearing the end of his life, and incarcerated in a Roman prison, Paul encouraged the followers of Jesus in Philippi not to become satisfied in their spiritual journey. He urged them to strive on, press to reach higher and to dive deeper in their knowledge and intimacy with the Savior.
Now, for most of us, we would look at Paul and say that he had already arrived. Just look at his pedigree. He was trained as a Pharisee. He was full of zeal for God. His conversion to Christ was a miraculous event that would even stun Hollywood. He was chosen to be an Apostle. He is arguably the greatest theologian of the Church Age. He wrote 1/3rd of the New Testament. That is 1/3rd more than any other Theologian for the past 1900 plus years. However, Paul wasn’t satisfied with himself. He knew that he could grow deeper in Jesus.
You can feel his passion as he writes, “I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead… I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.” ~Philippians 3: 10,12
The word Paul used in the Greek to press on is defined as, “to relentlessly pursue.” That is what Paul was doing. He was relentlessly pursuing Christ. That brings us to a question we must ask ourselves. “Am I satisfied with my spiritual growth?” “Have I grown complacent in my pursuit, or am I relentlessly diving deeper in the Lord?”
The more Paul grew in his relationship with Christ, the more he wanted to grow. In an effort to describe the beauty and power of this pursuit he said, “And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” ~ Ephesians 3:18-19 NLT
When we press on…
- We press onward for clear purpose:
Studying the actions of the early Christians makes one think, “Wow, they were fanatical, radical, over the edge.” Yet, if we could ask those first century believers, they would say that they were just normal followers of Jesus living out the testimony of a life devoted to the LORD Jesus.
Some have said that when a person gives their life to Christ that they stop living. On the contrary, It’s not until you devote your life to Christ that you finally start living. The early Christians got married, raised children, built homes, had careers, enjoyed life and yet Jesus gave their life new meaning. They had a new joy, a new peace, and a new purpose in which to live out their days.
Examine Romans 12: 1-2: “And so, dear brothers and sisters,[a] I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.[b] 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” – NLT
To find the life you were meant to live, you must first lose it in Christ. That’s the secret of finding the life you were born to live. A life saturated by Christ transforms the mind and the Holy Spirit reveals the Will of God for you.
- We press onward for holiness:
Instead, train yourself to be godly. 8 “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” ~ 1st Timothy 4: 7-8
Many people start a fitness plan. They go out and buy all the right clothes. They join the local gym. They begin their fitness journey with all the right intentions, then they fizzle out. Why? Reasons vary with each individual, but one thing is for sure, training requires consistent discipline.
The same is true if we want to honor the One who died in our place, arose from the grave, gave us victory over sin and death and filled us with the very Spirit of the Living God. We must press on if we are going to be holy.
- We press onward for victory:
A man was dying and his pastor came to visit. The man was visibly upset and the pastor assumed the man was fearing death. The pastor tried to comfort him with words of heaven, the angels, loved one who had already gone before him. The man interrupted the pastor and said, “Pastor, I’m not afraid to die, I’m ashamed to die.”
Though the man knew he was saved, he was keenly aware that he had not lived a very Christ-honoring life. That’s true for too many Christians. We live defeated lives, but we don’t have to.
I believe that is the reason for Paul’s intensity. He had one ultimate goal – to honor Christ with his life and he understood it would take uncompromising devotion.
“Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” ~ 1 Corinthians 9: 24-27 NLT
We have but one life to live for Christ. Give Him your best. He is worth it.
Press on… ~ Pastor Chris Vaught