I thought it might be appropriate, as we move on into 2020, to consider, briefly, Paul’s zeal for “pressing on” with the Lord.
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith – that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. 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 IS 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 3:7-14 ESV
Like many biblical statements, it should not be absolutized, particularly when it comes to forgetting what is behind.
The apostle almost certainly takes this metaphor from the arena – the length of the course in Athens was 607 feet from starting blocks to finishing post.
In order to get the prize, runners must not get distracted – looking back not only spelt danger but also made athletes decelerate: dithering delay would result in defeat.
To reach the racer-goal, and receive the 1st-prize call, needed total mental focus, eyes fixed on the finish, motivated by smell of success, to make sinew-strain worthwhile.
When we translate this metaphor into the spiritual arena, it is helpful to think of the following when applying it to ourselves:
It is good to look back in the following circumstances:
- To commemorate what God has done – in redemption, in history, in revivals, through heros, for churches and in believers.
- To reflect on God’s work of grace in our own lives – predestined, called, justified, progress to date in sanctifying grace, and all that precedes the glory that awaits.
- To repent or deepen repentance of unconfessed or superficially confessed sins.
- To repair relationships which should have been put right long ago – it is tragic when a brother or sister dies to whom we main unreconciled.
- To lead us from contrition to the promises of the Gospel, for grace and glory which is located in Christ, in the pursuit of holiness.