Paul was a man who sought to do what God wanted him to do, no matter the cost. He tried to live in a manner that brought glory to God, and pointed people to Jesus.
In his letter to the Philippians, Paul admitted that he was not complete yet, but then he wrote, “One thing I do: forgetting what lies 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.”
When Paul says he was “straining forward,” he is alluding to the picture of a runner at the end a race leaning into the finish tape. It is a close race. More than one runner is reaching for the finish line. But only one can win. Only one can come in first place. And so, each runner strains, reaches and leans with the desire to win the trophy.
This must be pointed out. In the game of the Christian life, the trophy is not limited to only one winner. God wants each of us to strain for the finish line, and he has promised the reward to all who do.
Consider with me some of these thoughts from the New Testament: “The one who perseveres to the end will be saved,” “He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it,” and, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
The message of these texts is rather simple. God will finish the work he is doing in us, but he expects us to follow him. We are saved by grace, not by the things that we do. No one can save himself. We are all dependent on the Lord.
And still, there is the constant refrain to follow, obey and seek the Lord and pursue his will.
Paul was a great example for us; he even said that. Just a few verses later in the same chapter, he wrote, “Join in imitating me…” And that we seek to do.
It is possible, even in the world in which we live, to follow after Christ. None of us will ever reach perfection. But that is the goal, and nothing else is as worthy a goal.
Will you pursue the Lord’s will with every ounce of energy you have? He will never leave you alone. He will help you along the way.
You can trust him.