Updated: Aug 31
All this and Heaven Too (Philipians 3:12-13) All this and Heaven too is a statement that great mature Christian can say, knowing that we are sojourners on this earth. Paul says “Not as though I had already attained!” because he never permitted himself to be satisfied with his spiritual attainment or physical achievements. Even if we are enjoying, and miracles are happening, even when in tribulations we should know that we are in a race.
When athletes are in race their goal are to hit a mark. Before the race they go through various forms of training, some a little bit demanding and tough. They take special diets; they need special clothing and extra. There is joy and necessary pain through the process but it’s all of the that and the prize.
Obviously, Paul was not satisfied with his Christian life. He had a sanctified Dissatisfaction. A sanctified dissatisfaction (spiritual hunger) is the first step to progress in our Christian race. Philippians 3:12-13 Paul says,” Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,” A manager called his employee and yelled at him and was put pressure on Him. When the employee came out the office His face looked dismal enough to wilt the flowers at the roses on secretary’s desk. The secretary said to the employee; 'I hope you did not get fired'. He explained everything to the secretary. When the secretary later asked her boss, she was told this was one of the best employees at the company and was above all, but the Manager saw when he pushes and get mad at him like that, he produced even more better results. Many Christians are self-satisfied because they compare their running with other Christians, usually those who are not making progress. If Paul had compared himself with others, he would have been tempted to be proud and to loosen up a bit. After all there were not many Christians in his time that where experienced and good enough as he was. He only compared himself with Christ who is our good standard for success.
If we are not careful; past victories and successes can steal our time and destroy our success. Similarly, the same with our past failures though we learn from them we should concentrate on the future. A mature Christian should honestly evaluate himself and also strive to do better; but we should not be obstructed with our previous success. One of the marks of maturity in a Christian is the knowledge that he is not perfect.
The church at Sardis “had a name that thou livest, and art dead” Rev 3:1. They had reputation without reality. The church at Laodicea boasted that it was rich, when in God’s sight it was “wretched and miserable, and poor and blind and naked” Rev 3:17. In contrast to the church Laodecian, the believers of Smyrna thought they were poor when they were rich (Rev 2:9). Samson thought he still had the old power but in reality, it had departed from him (Judges 16:20). Self-evaluation can be a dangerous thing, because we can err in two directions:
1) making ourselves better than we are, or
2) making ourselves worse than we really are.
Paul had no illusion about himself he had to keep on “pressing forward” in order to lay hold of that which Christ laid hold for him. A Divine Dissatisfaction (Hunger) is essential for our spiritual progress. The Psalmist says (Psalm 42:1-2), “As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the (B)living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” We need to know that whatever we have achieved; whatever challenges we have passed through; it is all this and heaven too. We should not forget about our final destination, heaven. Whilst we look and think about all this, we need to know, and be fully aware that there is one thing that we lack (Mark 10:21). One thing is needful. Jesus explained to Martha when she criticized her sister (Luke 10:42). One thing that I know exclaimed the man who had received his sight by the power of Christ (John 9:25). Concentrate on that thing. Don’t concentrate on many things at the same time you will lose focus. Be Devoted: A believer must devote himself or herself to running the Christian race. No athlete succeeds by doing everything; he succeeds by specializing. There are fewer exceptional athletes who are proficient in many sports. The winners are those who concentrate, who keep their eyes at the goal and let nothing distract them. Those that are devoted entirely to the calling just like Nehemiah when he was building the wall who refused to pay attention to distracting invitation. He said, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:3). The secret of success is concentration. A Christian running the race looks forward to the future, 'forgetting those things which are behind'.
Get Direction: Imagine what would happen in a race if the chariots started looking behind them. It is bad enough for a plowman to look back (Luke 9:62). If charioteer does that there will be collision and injury. Let’s use the word past, present and future in a correct order and not in reverse order. It’s past, present and future and not future, present and past. Which order are you using. “Forgetting those things behind”. Let’s manage our chaos properly. To forget does not mean to fail to remember. No mature person will forget what has happened in the past. We many wish we could erase some memories, but we cannot. According to the bible, to forget means to longer being influenced or affected by the past. We break the power of the past by living for the future. We cannot change the past but we can change the meaning of the past. There were things in Paul’s past (1 Tim 1:12-17) but they became aspirations to excel him ahead. Peter's past became aspirations to speed him ahead. Joseph example when he met His brothers, show us how a Christian should deal with the past. He did not treat his brothers with grudge though they had harmed him before. He saw the past in God’s view (Hebrews 10:17).
To many Christians are shackled by the regrets of the past. They are trying to race but looking backwards. No wonder they fall and stumble and get in the way of other Christians. Some Christians best runners are being distracted by the success of the past, not failure, this is bad. The things which are behind must be set aside, and the things which are ahead must reign in our hearts. It is impossible to have dissatisfaction, devotion and direction and still lose the race and the reward.
The fourth essential also is determination. We should have determination to get the price. The word I press shows determination. A person does not become a winning athlete by listening to lectures, watching movies, reading books or at cheering the game. The same zeal that Paul had when he was persecuting the church (Phil 3:6), he displayed it in serving Christ. We should have same determination into our spiritual lives as we do our golfing, fishing and bowling.
Every coach desire for the athlete they are working with is to make sure they win. Surprisingly the coach does not get the athlete's prize. Off course he might be recognized for work and coaching that he did to the athlete, but he does not get the athlete's medal. We need to continue pressing towards the High calling of Jesus (Phil 3:14). When we reach the goal, we will definitely receive the prize. I would like to say keep on marching, there is a prize waiting for you. Don’t look back. Don’t allow your past to shape your future. Paul was not suggesting that we attain heaven by effort. We attain heaven by grace. Paul was just saying, just like an athlete is rewarded for his effort, all of us are going to be rewarded for our efforts in the Lord. Moreover, the prize of this world will fade away but prize of the Lord will not fade, it’s eternal.
The fifth is to practice Discipline. Athletes are disciplined. It is good enough to run the race and win obeying the rules. We must obey the rules just athletes obey the rules. Paul says in (Colossians 3:1-7), “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Therefore, put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.”
We should do away with sin and seek the holiness of God. Since our heavenly home in above let us put God’s priorities correctly without error and compromise. Nothing is too hard for the lord? Let us not limit the Holy One. Let us be good stewards of what God have given us and entrusted us with, standing up for the truth (2 John) waiting for the Christian blessed hope. There is sufficient grace to complete the race. Jesus says (John 14:2-4), “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” When we are done and have finished our race faithfully, we will rejoice with our Lord soon and very soon in Heaven in Jesus Name. Our God is able to keep us from any stumbling block. Jude 24-25 says, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen.”