Laying hold of the prize!
Scripture reading for October 2nd: Philippians 3:4-21
Paul liked to use the analogy of a runner in a race. Runners had to keep focused on the finish line. They couldn’t be looking back but needed to be moving forward, even straining to win the prize. Good runners run to win! The Christian race is similar to a race and the prize is eternal life in Christ Jesus!
Paul used to boast about all of his credentials and accomplishments in an effort to become a good Jew. He was a Hebrew of Hebrews, a Pharisee from the tribe of Benjamin. He was taught in the law and was so zealous for his religion that he persecuted the church of Jesus Christ. But Paul considered all his accomplishments as rubbish for the wonderful privilege of knowing Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:7-8) He entered the race to know Christ on the Damascus Road and once his eyes were opened, he never looked back!
“That I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His suffering, becoming like Him in His death, and, so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:8b-11) Paul learned that all his works could not earn righteousness. It was a gift of God’s grace that came by faith in Christ. Paul got to see Christ, but he wanted to know Him in a more intimate way. He knew that the message of Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection had the power to reveal Christ in him and others.
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. . . .But this 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.” (Philippians 3:12-14) Paul is near the end of his life and his attitude is one of focused faith on receiving the prize of eternal life with Christ. He is not looking back, but straining forward! May we be so focused!