“But 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.” (Philippians 3:13-14)
As followers of Christ, we are sometimes very foolish people!
We are like soldiers who go to war without weapons in our hands. We are farmers standing by the field expecting a harvest when we have not tilled the soil or planted a seed. We battle hunger although sufficient bread and water is available, and we rather complain of the lack than go to the source of abundance.
Jesus said, “I have come that you may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10). We choose to fill ourselves up with lesser things!
We forget we are in a spiritual battle and in desperate need of spiritual stamina. We are called to build his kingdom and need spiritual tools to accomplish that task. We forget that unless we feed ourselves we will be weak and incapable of nurturing others. And we foolishly neglect the truth that we are children of the Living God who have been given the Holy Spirit to help, guide, and encourage us.
Christians are never called to coast. Our problem is – we do! Rather than engage in the pursuit of spiritual disciplines so we are strengthened for every situation, we move into neutral and cruise along complacently.
What’s the definition of spiritual disciplines? They are ordinary, everyday means of developing spiritual stamina in order to pursue God, grow spiritually, and press toward his goal for us. Think of them as small acts of daily obedience that add up!! Not a complicated formula by any means, they are, instead, part of a process of becoming more and more like Christ, one decision at a time.
You might ask, “Isn’t salvation all about grace and faith though? Why is all this effort even required? Lisa Chan clearly explains the distinction: “Many people forget that after the moment of salvation comes a lifetime of sanctification (the process of becoming holy). Your righteous position is gained in an instant of true belief, but your righteousness – your Christ-likeness – grows in depth over a lifetime of pursuing the things of God.”
The apostle Paul puts it this way. “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But 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” (Philippians 3:12-14).
You can call it a spiritual workout. Paul used that modern phrase in Philippians 2:12: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” In just one of Paul’s letters, 2 Timothy, we find a continuous invitation to engage in this process of becoming. Paul challenges Timothy and us in turn to, “Fan into flame…Follow the pattern of sound words…Guard the good deposit…Aim to please the one who enlisted you…Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved…Flee youthful passions…Continue in what you have learned and firmly believed.” All to what end? Paul tells us, “That the man of God may be competent and equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17).
Apparently, coasting is simply not an acceptable pastime for followers of Christ!
Elizabeth A Mitchell