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.
Goals are a great way to objectively measure progress and ultimately success or failure. For example, setting a goal to lose 20 pounds in 12 months or saving enough money to go on a European vacation next year are clearly stated goals. Too often, unrealistic goals are made, which leads to failure. To achieve our goals, self-discipline, sacrifice, and work are required on our part. Spiritual goals are no different.
One of the keys to achieving goals is being focused on what lies in front of you. It is impossible to move forward if your thoughts and actions are focused on your past mistakes or failures. Paul’s message tells us to forget what is behind and to strain toward the goal. Straining requires hard work to overcome the temptation to quit or backslide or give in to our flesh. Athletes continually train and put their bodies through extremely difficult workouts in order to be stronger and to overcome physical and mental obstacles so that they can remain focused on achieving their goal.
Satan is very good at telling us lies that we are no good and that we will never measure up to God’s requirements. Too often, we believe those lies and we give in to the guilt and shame over our sin and allow the past to become our present identity. Satan’s goal is to devour and destroy those who have put their hope and faith in Jesus. 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy, the devil (Satan), prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
Our identity as Christ-followers is as children of God. God loves us as we are, not as we should be.
Romans 8:1 says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”
Thought of the day: Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 9:24-25, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”
Whether you are an athlete or not, the Apostle Paul’s analogy of a runner in race is a great picture for everyone who has put their faith and hope in Jesus. The goal of the Christian life is to become more like Jesus in how we think and act towards God and others so that we receive the ultimate prize—hearing God say to us, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
Prayer: Heavenly Father, please give me a powerful sense of your mission for my life. Holy Spirit, give me wisdom of what it means to fight the good fight and to stay laser focused on straining toward the goal for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. In Jesus’ name and for his glory, I pray. Amen.