Run for the Goal

"I run toward the goal to get the prize of being called to heaven."
—Philippians 3:14

I teach the primary grade boys in our church on Wednesday nights through a program called Royal Ambassadors. Recently, we attended a field day with other Royal Ambassador chapters from around the state. It was a great time for the boys to compete against other boys their age in track and field type events.

One of the events was the 50-yard dash. I set myself up at the finish line to take pictures. As the race began, one boy ran out ahead of the rest. The boy in second just a step behind. As they approached the last ten yards, the boy in the lead looked over his shoulder to see how far ahead he was. This slowed his stride and the boy in second overtook him.

Seeing this event made me start thinking about the scripture in Philippians 3:10-14 where Paul compares the Christian life to a foot race. Paul encourages the Philippians to keep focused and run for the goal in order to gain the prize.

The Goal

According to Philippians 3:10, the goal of the Christian race is threefold: to know Christ, the power of His resurrection, and to share in His suffering. This is what we should run toward. The end goal: to be perfect. No one who breathes has ever reached the goal. Even Paul said, "I have not yet reached my goal, and I am not perfect" (Philippians 3:12). No one can reach that goal until death, but in the race, we should strive toward it.

The Prize

All this struggling and striving is senseless without a prize in mind. A runner runs to win recognition, a trophy, a ribbon, or monetary award. However, the Christian runs for something a little more tangible than earthly awards. We run for the eternal award of heaven and eternal life with our Savior. The award we will receive is greater than any award or recognitions we can receive here on earth.

Staying Focused

When a runner, like the boy in the 50-yard dash, takes his focus off the finish line, he looses momentum. Lost focus could cause him to loose the race. In the Christian race, lost focus will not cause you to loose your salvation, but you could loose other valuable things like your credibility, peace of mind, or sense of direction. Remain focused on the goal: know Christ, the power of His resurrection, and sharing in His suffering, knowing that you will receive the prize: heaven.

The best ways to know Christ is through prayer and Bible study. The two ways to get to know someone is to read about and to talk to him. Read about and talk to Jesus every day. You will never wonder, "What would Jesus do?" Youíll already have a good idea what Jesus would do.

I am not sure I can ever fully understand the power of Christís resurrection, but I do know that it gives me hope. Without the resurrection, the entire Christian dogma is garbage. The fact that Jesus was dead and then alive again has the power to change anyoneís life. The very dynamic of it I cannot explain — you must experience it.

Sharing in His suffering requires involvement. No spectator at a race ever won the prize. The Christian race is one you have to run, not watch. You cannot sit back in your pew while other Christians work to do the work of Christ. Jesus has a ministry for everyone. If you are not involved in one, find one. We all have talents and skills to use for the kingdom.

Conclusion

Paul tells the Philippians that he does not look back, but looks to what is ahead. Paul realized there was nothing he could do about his past. He focused on the future. We, too, can do nothing about our past. Focus on the future, the goal and the prize. Run toward the goal to get the prize.

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© copyright 2003 E. E. Perry