Philippians 3:12-14

The late Herb Caen was a journalist and humorist who wrote a a daily column for the San Francisco Chronicle. He once wrote this humorous piece.

“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle; when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”

Apparently the apostle Paul shared this philosophy since he often used the running metaphor to illustrate the Christian life. Perhaps he witnessed such events in the Colosseum in Athens or Corinth. Regardless, this text, written from a Roman prison when Paul was an aged man, provides a peek into his devotion, determination, and discipline in running the Christian race.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But 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.

Consider these three lessons from this powerful passage.

#1 Forget the Past

Some things are better forgotten. Athletes learn not to dwell on their past problems, failures, or losses. Worrying about the past will spell defeat for the future.

Paul could have obsessed about his past sins as a persecutor of Christians, past injuries and insults by brethren, and past persecutions by his enemies. But Paul knew that you can’t win the race by looking over your shoulder. You must focus on the future.

In his best selling book, What On Earth Am I Here For, author Rick Warren reminds us that “We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.”

The proper attitude toward the past can best be summed up by author, consultant, and speaker, Steve Maraboli who affirmed, “My past has not defined me, destroyed me, deterred me, or defeated me; it has only strengthened me.”

#2 Reach Forward

Like the runner, Paul is forward focused toward the finish line. William Barclay offers some insight in the English translation “straining forward.”

The word he uses for reaching out (epekteinomenos) is very vivid and is used of a racer going hard for the tape. It describes him with eyes for nothing but the goal. It describes the man who is going flat out for the finish. So Paul says that in the Christian life we must forget every past achievement and remember only the goal which lies ahead.

Every four years we’ve witnessed this scene of runners rounding the final turn on the track. Their arms are clawing the air. Their legs are stretching forward. As they approach the finish line, they are leaning forward, straining with all their might to beat the runner next to them.

Such a spirit ought to characterize our spiritual race. Giving it all we got to grow spiritually. To be a godly influence. To be a good steward. To share the Good News with the lost. To edify fellow Christians. And to achieve the prize of our heavenly goal.

#3 Press on.

Twice in this text Paul said, “I press.” This means to earnestly endeavor and eagerly pursue the object of your affection. “Pressing on” is not passive. It’s active. Energetic. And progressive.

When we “press on” we’re not allowing circumstances or obstacles to hinder us from the goal. We keep on moving forward.

You got a problem? Press on.
Had a setback? Press on.
Lost a loved one? Press on.
Feel discouraged? Press on.
Experienced difficulties? Press on.
Struggling with temptation? Press on.
Suffering physical ailments? Press on
Is your heart heavy? Press on.
Is your mind anxious? Press on.
Is your conscience hurting? Press on.

Are you wondering if you can make it and finish the race? The answer is “Yes.” Press on!

Don’t give up. Don’t give in. Don’t give out.

Forget the past. Reach forward. And press on.

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman


Filed under Passage To Ponder

2 responses to “Philippians 3:12-14

  1. Ranger Harper

    Great post on a great passage!

    I would “check your fire” as we said in the field with Steve Maraboli quotes.

    He is good for coffee cups but not so much for Christians.


  2. Pingback: Weekly Recap: April 9-14 | ThePreachersWord

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