Stay focused on the ultimate goal!
Friday, December 29, 2017
As we turn the page on the calendar to begin a New Year, our thoughts often focus on fresh starts, new beginnings and new opportunities. Many of us will make New Year’s resolutions and set out to accomplish certain goals over the course of the coming year. In the process of making resolutions and setting goals, have you ever stopped to consider the goals that God may have for your life?
The apostle Paul was someone who was given a fresh start, a clean slate and an opportunity to begin again after meeting the resurrected Christ on the road to Damascus. In part of his personal testimony recorded in Philippians 3, Paul writes of his strong desire to know Christ more intimately and become more like Him.
Paul desired to bring glory to the person of Christ. He was not satisfied with just knowing about Jesus. Paul longed to experience Christ’s abiding presence, to become more like Jesus and for other people to see Christ manifested in his life. I submit to you that Paul’s ultimate goal should also be our ultimate goal in life – to know Christ and make Him known.
In his testimony, Paul shares three timeless truths that can help us stay focused on knowing Christ, growing in Christ and sharing Christ with others.
First, we must maintain a healthy perspective about the past. In Philippians 3:13, Paul writes of “forgetting those things which are behind” (NKJV). I believe there is value in remembering some things about our past. We often need to be reminded of God’s faithfulness and work in our lives, but other things are best forgotten.
Many Christians are burdened by their past sins and failures. But the truth is that we have no reason to carry that guilt if we have genuinely repented of those things and asked God to forgive us. In addition to past sins and failures, we need to forget some of our successes, as well. We should never allow past accomplishments or past failures to keep us from future achievements. Paul didn’t allow his past to keep him from his goal of knowing Christ.
Second, we must “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (verse 13). God has a plan for every one of us. Seek the Lord regarding His will and plan for your life rather than allowing others to determine it for you. Throughout Scripture, Paul often uses illustrations from athletic contests in his writings. When I think of pressing toward the goal, I picture a runner going as fast and as hard as he/she can to reach the finish line. Pursue Christ in the same way with all of your being!
Third, we should imitate those who are mature followers of Christ. In the latter part of Philippians 3, Paul writes about following his example and the example of other Christ-followers (verse 17). Those words set a high bar for us, but stop for a moment and think about the individual who led you to Christ. Think of those who discipled you and invested in your life. They were simply being obedient in teaching you what God and others had taught them. That’s what disciple-making is all about, and it is the life to which we are all called to as part of the Great Commission.
Let’s focus on knowing Christ and making Him known throughout 2018.
“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.” — Philippians 3:7