Text: “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).
What is a goal?
A goal is something we work toward or an objective we have in our mind. For example, the objective in any type of race is to be the first to cross the finish line and thus be the winner. The drivers who participate in the big race at the Daytona Speedway have one goal in mind and that goal is to be the first to cross the finish line. The first one to cross the finish line will be honored in victory lane by his team members, fans, and the media.
The members of a football team are concerned about moving the football across the last white line before the “H” shaped poles. Their goal is to cross that last white line and score points. All sports are competitive and each player or each team’s goal or objective is to be the winner.
Many times young people graduating from high school are asked the question: “What is your goal in life?” In other words, what do you intend to do with your life, or what type work do you plan on doing? Some may say, “My goal is to be a doctor, or lawyer, or nurse, etc.”
Another might say, “My goal is to go to college so that I can be a teacher.” Whatever a person strives to do, but has not yet attained that point in life is that individual’s goal.
My first goal after high school graduation was to get an education that would provide stable employment and a reasonable income. Once I attained that goal, my next goal was to marry the love of my life.
After I reached that goal, the next goal was to start a family, provide for the family, and live happily ever after. I reached each one of those goals. I was a winner.
All of us have set goal during our life time. Sometimes people don’t think about goals. There are people who take life for granted and waste seconds, minutes, and hours in that God-given day. They give no thought to what they might be able to accomplish because they have no desire to do anything. In other words, they have no goal or goals.
People should be able to set goals regardless of their status in life. It should make no difference if one is very rich or very poor. A person should be able to set goals regardless if their mother or father completed elementary or high school.
Someone with a disability has the opportunity to set goals just like someone who has no disability. The goals may be different, but nevertheless they are goals or objectives to be attained.
People have different likes so therefore their goals will differ. Children in the same family often aspire to accomplish different goals in life. Just because a child’s mother or father is an accountant doesn’t necessarily mean that child will choose that field of work.
By the same token, there are young people who do follow in the footsteps of their parents. I know a number of young men who became doctors because their father was a doctor. Perhaps they were influenced, but ultimately each studied to reach that goal.
The apostle Paul was the son of a Pharisee. He was born a Jew and he was raised in the Jewish faith. Paul said, “I have more; circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless” (Philippians 3:5,6).
This Scripture gives the impression that Paul was really bragging and impressed with his accomplishments, but that was not really the case. Paul is really saying that a person can have the best of the best, achieve the most of the most, and live an impressive life in the eyes of other people, but in the end, none of this will really count because it is all in the flesh.
Paul had all that the flesh could offer. His credentials were the best that anyone of his day could possible desire. Paul was proud of his heritage. He said, “I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my father” (Galatians 1:14).
In Paul’s day, if people were not Jewish, they were Gentiles and considered pagans, heathens and were non-religious people. The Jewish people did not associate with the Gentiles because they believed that contact with them would corrupt them spiritually.
The goal of some Gentiles was to convert to Judaism by going through customs of the Jew’s; however, they were only converted Jews and were never fully accepted as if they were born a Jew.
What many people, including the Jews, didn’t understand was that it was God’s goal to send His message to the Jews as well as the Gentiles. God’s goal was to save all people regardless of their religion or belief. Moses made note of this in Genesis 12 and Isaiah mentioned it in chapters 42 and 66 of his book.
God’s goal to save all people was brought to reality through His Son Jesus Christ. The Father never forces salvation upon anyone, but He gives everyone the opportunity to spend eternity with Him by repenting of their sins and accepting His Son as their own personal Lord and Savior.
Many people today think that just because they consider themselves good people and they live good and acceptable lives according to worldly standards they have reached their goal in life. Paul had more in the flesh than most of us, but after he saw the light, he realized he had not reached the goal God intended him to reach. At this point in his life, Paul was not a winner according to God’s standards.
Paul said, “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ” (Philippians 3:7). The profit Paul was talking about was all that he was and all that he had accomplished in his life. The worldly success Paul had was nothing compared to the spiritual success that he could have.
There are people today who are very proud of their past successes and accomplishments. That in itself is not all bad. The bad part is continuously living each day in the light of those past successes. These past successes tend to get in the way of their relationship with the Son of God.
People begin to believe that what they have accomplished, they have accomplished on their own. They tend to forget who is in control of their lives. They forget that all they have, including their family and their own life, does not belong to them.
Everything they have has been given to them by God the Father. Every breath of life they take is given to them by the grace of God. The strength and energy to take the next step in life is granted to them by the Father. All their material possessions were loaned to them by God.
They do not realize that God has not and will not let them take any material possession with them when they exit the stage of life. None of us has ever seen a hearse pulling a U-Hall trailer in a funeral procession.
You heard the story about the rich man who made his wife promise that when he died she would put all of the money he had in his bank account in the casket with him so that he could spend it on the other side. He even provided her with a box in which to place all his money.
Sure enough, when the man died, the woman had the undertaker place the box in the casket with him. One of her friends ask her if she really placed the money in the box and the wife said that she had made a promise and being a woman of her word, she could not break that promise. The wife went on to say that she withdrew all of his money out of the bank, counted it, and wrote him a check for that amount and placed the check in the box. She said that he was more than welcome to the money as soon as he cashed it on the other side.
The point is that everything we have accumulated in the flesh will be considered loss for the sake of Christ. Paul went on to say, “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things” (Philippians 3:7). Paul is saying that his earthly successes and accomplishments were absolutely nothing compared to knowing Jesus as his own personal Lord and Savior.
A personal relationship with the Son of God the Father is more valuable than anything else in this world. Paul considered all that he had, all that he was, and all that he had accomplished as mere rubbish. Rubbish is worthless material and needs to be discarded.
Paul’s goal in life was to know Christ. It was not to know things about Christ, but to really have an intimate relationship with him. For about the first 30 years of Paul’s life, Paul had his priorities out of order.
He was living a worldly life instead of concentrating on a spiritual life. Yes, he was a Pharisee and he followed all the Jewish customs, rituals, laws and he studied under some of the greatest of teachers, but he was living in the flesh.
There are people today who think like Paul. They have their priorities out of order. They are living worldly lives instead of focusing on their spiritual life. They are living to please people instead of pleasing God. They refuse to believe that there is a life beyond this life. They refuse to believe that they will spend eternity in one of two places.
Some people believe God is good and that he will take care of them no matter what they do or how they live their earthly lives. They speak to God when they get themselves in a bind or when they are hurting.
Many do more asking than praising. Some fail to realize that one day the earthly light will flicker and go out and then the darkness will come. They view their earthly life as if it will never cease to be.
Paul said, “I consider them rubbish, 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 is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith” (Philippians 3:8, 9).
Each one of us is like Paul in that we are not righteousness. We do not measure up to the standards set forth by God. All of us can obey God’s Law, The Ten Commandments, to the best of our ability, but that does not make us righteous. I will go on to say that we cannot even live up to the Law. At times, we have put other things before God, but we know we shouldn’t.
Many times we have placed work, money, entertainment, possession of material things, etc. before God. Maybe this was not intentional, but then on the other hand, how many times have we failed to consult God before concentrating on the worldly things? People are guilty of using the name of the Lord in vain. We have all heard and witnessed the Lord’s name being used as a swear word.
We have failed to be in the Lord’s house as often as we should. How many times have we fallen asleep or let our minds wander and think about something other than praising the Lord? How often have we given up all work activities on the Lord’s Day and used that day to do what would bring honor and glory to Him?
Some people have disgraced their parents. They have not honored their mother and father. Some have committed murder. Some have committed adultery. Some have stolen and coveted that which was not theirs.
All I am saying is that God knew we could never live under His standards and survive. Paul sent a letter to the Romans in which he stated: “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed” (Romans 3:21-25).
No human-being is naturally righteous. Righteousness comes from God and no one else. The only way we can stand right before God is as a righteous person is to repent of our sins, place our trust in God, and accept His Son Jesus as our own personal savior. Paul tells us that “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
When you and I place our trust in the Son of God something takes place. He takes our sin and gives us righteousness. Jesus took all our sins to the Cross and when we repent of our sins and accept Him as our Savior, he presents us the badge of righteousness.
God’s goal is to trade each person who will repent, trust, and accept Jesus as Lord their worthless sins for His priceless righteousness.
Paul’s goal was to “know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his suffering, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:10-11).
Paul is telling us that if we are to have a personal relationship with Christ and to tap into the power of the resurrection, or to share in the resurrection, we will need to give up the old person in us and accept the new.
In other words, our old way of living, our old sinful nature, our old ways of living as the world lives will have to be sacrificed or given up if we are to fully enjoy the power of the resurrection.
The power that will come upon us when we give up the old life and reach for the goal of the new life is the same power that helped raise Jesus from the dead. As our sins were taken to the Cross and crucified, the resurrection power will come upon us as it did that first Easter morning.
Paul says, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Philippians 3:12). Paul is reaching or pressing on to his goal of knowing Christ and walking in the footsteps of Christ.
It took all Paul’s strength and energy to make his goal a reality. Paul knew he could make it because he said, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). Paul knew his source of strength and his source of power.
We, too, need to know where our strength and power comes from. We, too, can do what Paul did. You and I can reach our goal in life just as Paul reached his goal. Paul made mistakes in his life just as we have made mistakes in our life.
The important thing is not to dwell on the past but to move on into the future. We must do as Paul did: “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, pressing on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
Our goal in life is not what we can do or what possessions we can acquire. We need to forget the past, live the present, and focus on the future. We need to realize our past, present, and future sins have already been crucified on the Cross and the power of the resurrection is just waiting for us when we repent of our sins, trust in God, and accept Jesus as our own personal Lord and Savior.
Our life’s Goal is to know Christ.