#DailyDevotion What Pressing Towards The Goal Looks Like
Phil. 312I don’t mean I have already reached this or am already at the goal, but I eagerly go after it to make it mine because Christ Jesus made me His own. 13Fellow Christians, I don’t think I have it in my hands. But one thing I do: I forget what is behind, reach for what is ahead, 14and with my eyes on the mark I go after the heavenly prize to which God has called us in Christ Jesus.
Perhaps that is what is wrong with Christianity in some places today—we don’t have the same fervency for our salvation as Paul did. While Paul certainly taught us to rest in Jesus he didn’t tells us to rest. He certainly taught us the certainty of our salvation depended totally on Christ Jesus and his works. Yet he also taught us to vigilant lest we fall back into our old ways of unbelief.
So too here, Paul tells us that he doesn’t mean he had reached the goal of his faith or already at the goal. In other words he is still living by faith that the promise of the gospel is real and true but he has not received that which is promised. As one other saint has once we are saved by grace through faith but we should live our lives as if salvation depended upon our good works. We should be about doing everything we can to make salvation our own, Jesus Christ our own, his suffering, death and resurrection our own because Christ Jesus has made us his own. Now did you get the nugget of gospel there? Christ Jesus has made us his own. He did that by his suffering, death and resurrection. We did not earn being Christ own. It was all his doing. Nevertheless, we should go about our lives with such intent earning our salvation and living lives pleasing to God even though we already belong to Christ Jesus and are one with him through faith in him. And yes, perhaps more importantly, be willing to see our suffering and death as something pleasing to God in Christ Jesus. For Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians chapter one the sufferings of Christ overflow into our lives. We should not be ashamed of our suffering nor wish be done with it.
So Paul also tells us he does this thing, “I forget what is behind, reach for what is ahead, 14and with my eyes on the mark I go after the heavenly prize to which God has called us in Christ Jesus.”` Oftentimes people quote this to tell us to forget about the bad things that happened to us in the past. Yet that is not what St. Paul is saying. We must go back to the beginning of the chapter. He counts as lost everything he could put before God: being a descendent of Abraham, a Benjamite, a Pharisee of Pharisees, perfect according to the traditions of the Pharisees. Whatever he could claim as meritorious before God by his own efforts, he forgets those things. Now he reaches for what is ahead. He’s not talking about our human goals here either. His eye is on the mark of Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, at the right hand of God. He is reaching for the resurrection of the dead, to rule with Christ Jesus in the new heavens and new earth. He is reaching for being like Christ according to his glorified humanity. Trusting in the grace of God in Christ Jesus, he does what he can to make sure he doesn’t lose that prize. With such fervency and trust in the grace of God in Christ Jesus, we too should live our lives not trusting in our human merit but nevertheless hating evil and loving good in every way.
Heavenly Father, grant us such grace that we live as if we merited salvation by our good works yet also not fearing losing it because of the certainty of the gift given us in Christ Jesus. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.