I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. — Philippians 3:14
When our daughter first learned to walk, she soon had a desire to climb up onto the couch. I watched her one day as she spent the better part of the hour attempting to do this. First, she tried swinging up one leg — but her legs were too short. Then, she tried reaching as far as she could with her arms, hoping to be able to pull herself up. When that was also unsuccessful, she went into the bathroom and retrieved the small stool that my brother-in-law had made so that the children could reach the sink to brush their teeth. She placed this in front of the couch, and stepped up on it. Now she was making progress! The only problem was that the stool wasn’t very well balanced, and each time she stepped up onto the front edge of the stool, it would tip towards her, and she would slip off. Finally, she managed to get her foot squarely in the center of the stool, and was able to swing one short leg onto the cushions of the couch. Imagine her delight as she quickly scrambled the rest of the way up and snuggled down among the cushions. Our family photo album includes a picture of her shortly after she had reached this goal. Her expression of delight in this accomplishment is very evident.
Just as my daughter continued to pursue her goal that day, Paul’s words remind us that we, as Christians, must persevere in our pursuit of Heaven. Paul’s goal was to know Christ, to be like Christ, and to be all that Christ had in mind for him. This goal was the focus of his life.
What an example for us! We should not let anything take our eyes off our spiritual goal. With the single-mindedness of an athlete in training, we must lay aside every distraction and concentrate every effort on reaching our goal.
Let us purpose to say, like Paul, “I reach, I strive, I press on, I keep trying!”
The believers at Philippi held a very special place in Paul’s heart. They were the first converts in Europe, and had been a source of joy and comfort to him by their Christian witness and financial support. Even though he was imprisoned at the time he wrote this letter, Paul was filled with the joy of knowing Christ, and he communicated that joy to these fellow Christians.
Chapter 3 begins the conclusion of his letter. In no uncertain terms, Paul reminded them that they should strive to be like Christ and to stay focused on the heavenly goal. He warned them to be wary of those who would try to separate them from the pure Gospel — legalistic Jews who were zealous of the Law, but had nothing in their hearts. He expressed his deep concern that the Philippians would not burden themselves with an attitude of legalism, but would experience the full joy of the knowledge of Christ.
Paul used his pedigree as an object lesson to show that human achievements and position can never earn a person a place in Heaven. He was a member of the tribe of Benjamin, which produced Israel’s first king, Saul, and was also a member of the Sanhedrin, thus a Pharisee. By purposely mentioning these facts, and then emphatically stating that these were all worthless when compared to knowing Christ, Paul was sure to gain the attention of his audience.
Paul encouraged the believers to follow the example of experienced Christians, letting them know that no matter how far they had come, they still needed to be careful and to stay close to Christ. He also encouraged them to be supportive of each other so none would be tempted to falter in their walk.
At the beginning of chapter 4, Paul expressed his concern that the believers would be unwavering in their faith, and would not allow differences between individuals to hamper their work. He reminded them that they should be united in conquering the same enemy, not fighting amongst themselves.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV. Joy in the person of Christ (3:1 — 4:3)
A. The appeal (3:1)
B. The warning against false circumcision and confidence in the flesh (3:2-6)
C. The testimony (3:7-14)
1. The evaluation of his past experience (3:7-9)
2. The statement of his present ambition (3:10-11)
3. The goal of his present strivings (3:12-14)
D. The exhortations (3:15 — 4:3)
1. To proper attitudes (3:15-16)
2. To imitation (3:17-21)
a. The commands: follow and observe (3:17)
b. The reasons (3:18-21)
(1) Godless examples (3:18-19)
(2) Heavenly citizenship (3:20-21)
3. To steadfastness (4:1)
4. To unity (4:2-3)
A Christian’s ultimate goal should be to know Christ. Have you allowed anything to get in the way of your relationship with Him?