We are over half-way and perhaps you are thinking the Apostle Paul is perfect. You look at your own circumstance and think how will I ever apply anything of what I read in the Bible into my life? It is too difficult. I make too many errors.
Thankfully for us Paul is a realist. He wasn’t perfect and he knew the Philippian Church wasn’t either. So he encourages them by telling them that he gets it wrong at times. He fails and stumbles and he still has a way to go. Just like us. But he simply tells us not to go backwards. To live our lives that reflect where we have come so far. Here are the verses of Philippians 3: 12-16: “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But 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. All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.”
Paul encourages us:
To PURSUE Jesus.
He says it twice, he presses on.
Are you passionately pursuing Him?
Are you panting as a deer pants for the water?
Are you settling for the faith instead of following the Master?
Are you stuck in second gear in the middle lane of the motorway?
Yesterday I had a walk by the river. It is usually fast flowing but it was still. There was no movement. I read recently how the rivers in the world are slowing down they are no fast flowing as they used to be. Dammed up, drained and dredged of sediment there seems to be a slowing down of the river. One of the heartbreaks in Africa is to see the many dried channels where rivers used to flow freely.
There is another river and another stagnation. The Spirit and God’s people.
The Apostle knew more than we know. He discovered truths that we are so grateful for. He had revelations that we could never dream or see. Yet he never stopped chasing after Him who had captured his heart on that Damascus Road. There were new sunsets and sunrises to see, there were aspects of God to dwell on for days and weeks, there were long stretches of prayer and fasting where Christ was all he could focus on, there was more power for the gospel to receive. There was more because Christ is more!
To PART with the weight.
I don’t run the distances I used to run these days. Maybe I will again. The one deciding factor on that will be if I shift some more weight. If I run when a stone heavier than I am, which I have been at many times in my life, I will struggle. If I run a stone less than I am carrying right now then I will run faster. It makes sense doesn’t it? We move quicker when we are lighter.
So we need to shift the weight. What weight? Paul says forget what is behind you.
This is not to erase from your memory all that has happened for that would be impossible. You may have had a traumatic past and who can forget some of those things? You might have been a victim or like Paul you may have even been a perpetrator of other people’s pain, he was a persecutor of Christians and he never forgot it.
So whether or not you failed or you were hurt, Paul is saying let it go. Don’t let it hold you back. It is too heavy for you and it will weigh you down. If you need forgiveness then get it from Jesus if you need to forgive then ask Him to help you. But never let doubt, guilt, condemnation, hurt and pain slow you down from pursuing Christ.
I recently spoke with someone who I hadn’t come across for years and years. I couldn’t believe it the conversation though had different circumstances was exactly the same: the world is against me. I was thanking God that I had moved away from that person but pitied them because they had not moved away from being a victim.
For the PRIZE is Christ
In 1972 the musical Godspell had the lyrics to a song:
Three things I pray
To see thee more clearly
Love thee more dearly
Follow thee more nearly
Day by day
If anyone saw the Formula 1 race yesterday then you will still be reeling from the shock of witnessing a horrible crash. The Bahrain Grand Prix was stopped after Grosjean escaped with minor injuries but the crash was horrific as his car struck a barrier and caught fire.
There will be some who in their race that Paul earlier describes don’t make it, they self-destruct. The circumstances of life eat away at them. They suffer crashes that they never recover from. But for those who pursue and forget the past and continue they will get the prize.
The prize is Christ; knowing Him more; loving Him more; following Him closer; it is Jesus. Of course the prize is the end of the race. Today I will conduct the funeral of a lady who finished her race here on earth and who will join her son in heaven who finished it earlier this year.
We are not perfect, we do fail, we get things wrong time and again. But we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down and we go again.
Go again today. Pursue Christ, lose the weight that slows you down for the prize is Christ!