The Search for Joy
Winning the Race and the Prize
Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, where to we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.
Paul was noted for his athletic metaphors used in his writings and judging from this, he most likely was an avid sports fan. He made reference to boxing, wrestling, and running comparing the Christians life to a footrace. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 says: “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” Paul had a indelible passion to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ and pursued sanctification (Christlikeness) with all of his might.
Because of Paul’s remarkable testimony and transformed life, he felt that some of the people of Philippi would think he had attained spiritual perfection. He reduced the process of sanctification to one simple thought,“but this one thing I do,”–– pursue Christlikeness conforming to the image of Christ––here and now. Paul explained that the believer must not rely on past achievements in ministry or dwell on sins or failures of the past. Dwelling on the past, with all of it’s disasters, disappointments and defeats, can only have a debilitating effect on a true believer and his present work for the cause of Christ.
“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” means; When God calls all believers to heaven and into His glorious presence he then will receive the prize that was unattainable in this earthly life. The spiritual perfection of Christlikeness is only available to the Christian when he is called upward to heaven. Paul was not speaking of spiritual perfection but of spiritual maturity in Christ and walking in a manner that would cause one to keep growing spiritually until the day all believers are called home.
Thought: Be determined to: “exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” (I Timothy 4:7,8). Be disciplined in the race for God and obedient to His High calling. The direction of your focus should be on the Person of Christ, for He holds the crown of glory awaiting you as He has promised. Run determined, run disciplined, and run in the direction of Christ to win the final and eternal prize of glory.