“I focus on this one thing; forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ, is calling us.” Phil. 3:13-14
I appreciate the fact that Paul had the wisdom to point out some real obstacles that can cause me to stumble and lose the race of a lifetime. Paul, a genuine man, knew what he was talking about.
I think of all the destruction and hate he caused the followers of Jesus. He would have been stopped in his tracks if he had allowed those old recriminations to feed his mind. His mind’s voice: “How could God ever use you? Look at how evil you were! Once evil always evil, you are just fooling yourself to think God has a place and purpose for you.” Jesus said as He died, “It is finished!! That means any sins, once confessed, and covered by the blood are gone forever.
That’s not all, Paul could just as easily have been tripped up by all his successes in the ministry. He could have had the attitude – I have already arrived. No more maturity needed. I have done enough for the kingdom. I should be able to go retire. I believe, it wasn’t only past sins he was worried about, but also becoming proud of his achievements. How many tricks the evil one employs to get us off the track, so we never finish the race and collect the prize! Here’s the antidote to counteract the obstacles—focus on what lies ahead. Paul learned it from Jesus “for the joy set before Him, He endured the cross disregarding its shame.” (Heb. 12:2) Jesus’s prize is a seat at God’s right hand. I have heaven and a prize waiting for me from Jesus.
You have a course and prize for me. I understand to receive the prize I must continue to run the race. Help me to identify my own personal obstacles, and then help me to avoid them. Also give me the endurance I need to finish the race. And please, Lord, keep my eyes focused on You, the destination, and prize. Amen.