Coaches are known for their pep talks. Before a competition they gather up the team to impart directions and instill confidence into their athletes. I remember my dad giving race advise to my teammates and I. He said that in a race, we shouldn’t look back, but keep our eyes and focus ahead. We find such a pep talk given by Paul to team Philippi with the following words: “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, I do not consider myself 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.” (Philippians 3:12-14)
This pep talk from Paul has infused confidence and direction into my race of faith. As I’ve studied this passage I have asked myself three questions that help me understand this passage of scripture:
1. What is the “goal” Paul writes about? Earlier in verses 8 and 10 Paul makes his passion and goal clear: “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” “I want to know Christ.” In addition to the goal of knowing Christ, Paul is committed to making Christ known. In Colossians 1:28 he says, “We proclaim Him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.” I, too, have as my goal to know Christ and make Him known.
2. What does “forgetting what is behind” mean? Paul could have meant that he no longer focused on past pursuits, passions, and even problems, and wanted to keep his focus riveted on what Christ had captured his attention and allegiance to accomplish now. I, too, want to run not looking back on past accomplishments and failures, but to keep asking God to direct me to what he wants me to do for him today, this week, and going forward.
3. How can I press on toward the goal? (of knowing Christ and making Him known.) I have three ways to press on: 1. Press into God for direction and courage. I have compiled scripture verses that I say to myself to help me have courage and confidence: ( i.e. Philippians 1:6, Ephesians 2:10, Psalm 138:8). 2. Put one foot in front of the other. Break the goal down into smaller steps and start walking. When I had a goal of developing a website to “coach” others in their race of faith, the task was daunting. I had no idea how to do it. So I broke the goal down into achievable steps and began moving forward. Eventually, my website was launched. 3. Pray for God to accomplish His work through me. Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, the workers build it in vain.” Psalm 90:17 says, “May the favor of the Lord rest upon us. Establish the works of our hands for us, yes, establish the works of our hands.”
How are you pressing on for Christ this fall? Let me know so I can cheer you on and pray for you!