Encouragement in Philippians
“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”Philippians 3: 12-14
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Have you won many awards in your life? In our society today, there are many opportunities to win awards. Medals and trophies are awarded to excellent sports teams or individual athletes. Prizes of many kinds are awarded to choirs, bands, speech teams, and dance teams. Plaques and other awards are even awarded to us teachers for excellent service in the profession. As a whole, our society likes to give and receive prizes. Winning these prizes means a lot of tireless work and effort on our part, but when we win the prize, we know that it was worth it. Yet these prizes pale in comparison to the prize that awaits us.
In Philippians 3:12–14, Paul explains what it means to “press on toward the goal for the prize” that is awaiting us. Instead of defining how we win this prize, let’s take a look first at what it doesn’t mean. First, pressing on toward the goal doesn’t mean that we have already won this prize. Yes, we have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb of God, but our prize has not yet been realized. Until we reach our heavenly destination, we are still “running the race.” This may seem sad at first, but it is also comforting. The fact that we do not yet have this prize means that the best is most definitely yet to come. Any trials and tribulations we face in the here and now will be washed away when Christ makes all things new.
Second, pressing on towards the goal does not mean that we are achieving this prize for ourselves. We may face troubles and obstacles as we live in the upward call, but Christ has won the victory! Paul says in verse 12, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own” (Philippians 3:12). Our salvation is not of our own works but is by grace alone and through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Only because of God’s amazing love can we love Him and our neighbor, and proclaim the Truth of the Gospel.
When we understand what it doesn’t mean to “press on toward the goal for the prize” (v. 14), it’s easier to see what it does mean. It means holding fast to the faith and the Word of God. It means fearing, loving, and trusting in our heavenly Father, and repenting of the times when have failed to do so. It means trusting in Christ alone for our salvation from sin, death, and the devil. Simply put, it means keeping our eyes upon Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:1–2).
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.