Summary: This sermon is about forgetting the past and pressing on toward Christ-likeness.
Running The Race of Life
Do any of you ever make out “To Do” lists? – a list of things that need doing throughout the day.
Do you always complete your list everyday or do you sometimes have to carry over some things to the next day?
If you seldom complete your list, then I guess you could say that the things listed are more like goals that you would like to accomplish. These are things that you shoot for, hoping to finish.
When you have a long list of jobs to do one day and you actually get them all done, how does that make you feel?
It feels great! You’re thinking, “I did it! I got everything done that I needed to accomplish today.” = a great feeling.
THEN, dum-de-dum-dum: tomorrow comes! All those things you accomplished yesterday mean what? Not Much.
Those goals you met yesterday mean nothing today. That’s old news. Today brings new goals, new challenges and you have to start all over again.
That’s the bad thing about goal-setting; you always have to come up with new goals when you meet the ones you’ve already set. But That’s life.
You all went through school so you know what I’m talking about. You may have been told, “You did a great job in fourth grade, you passed your tests and met the requirements the state mandated. You did such a good job meeting the goals of 4th grade we’re moving you up to 5th grade.” Then you got promoted to the 5th grade, which came with a whole new set of goals, challenges, and tests. You met those 5th grade goals so they promoted you to the sixth grade and so on until you graduated from high school.
You never could rest on your laurels because you might fall behind and possibly be held back.
That’s how it is in life, there’s always a new challenge, a new goal to shoot for. We have to keep striving to improve. The question I want us to ponder today is, “Are we preserving or progressing in our walk with the Lord?”
In today’s passage Paul talks about the goal of his life.
Turn in your Bibles to Philippians 3:12-14 and let’s take a look at the ultimate goal of Paul’s life.
What is Paul saying here? Well, if we look back at verses 10 and 11 we see that Paul is telling us that the goal of his life is to know Christ and the power of His resurrection, to share in the fellowship of His suffering, and to become like Him so that he might attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Basically, Paul is saying he wants to be made Christ-like. He wants to know Christ personally and intimately so that through the power of Christ’s resurrection he might be made perfect in Jesus and be the best of friends with Christ.
Now he tells us in verse 12 he hasn’t reached that goal yet. He’s not perfect but he presses on toward that end.
To get there he says he forgets what is behind him, the past, and he strains forward to what lies ahead; the goal of winning the prize of the upward calling of Christ.
In other words, eternal life, and resurrection from the dead, where he will finally be made perfect and be able to enjoy the kind of relationship God intended for us to have with Him.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with setting goals. We need incentives in life. The problem arises when we reach our goals and become satisfied or complacent in our accomplishments.
The difference between preserving and progressing is that:
1. Preserving is maintaining in safety to protect what was;
2. Progressing is movement towards the goal.
Paul spelled out his focus and that was the prize set before him at the finish line of life. In order to gain the prize we have to be moving toward it.
There are many Christians who are content to live in what used to be. They are content to dwell in safety and not take risks for the Lord. In their walk with God they feel it is much easier and safer to preserve what they have than to reach out for more that God has for them.
We can’t allow ourselves to become satisfied with past accomplishments. We need new goals to keep us motivated toward continually progressing. This is what Paul is telling us in our passage for today.
Paul liked sports and he often used sporting events to illustrate his points. Here Paul uses the picture of a race to make his point so let me do the same.
During the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles I remember seeing the 110 meter high hurdles. The favorite to win was an American named Greg Foster. “ABC” even did one of their three minute features on him. When the gun went off and the runners charged toward the hurdles Greg Foster got off to a good lead. But just as he jumped over the last hurdle, he turned his head ever so slightly to see where everyone else was. BIG MISTAKE. That look back cost him only hundredths of a second, but it was enough to lose the race.