‘’I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.’’ The Message.
Paul had not yet fully experienced all that was his in Jesus, but he was certainly reaching for it. (Note that there was no ‘sinless perfection’ in this life; not even for Paul.)We have seen Paul ‘the accountant’ and here we see Paul ‘the athlete’, running for the prize; straining and stretching to hit the tape (see also Hebrews 12:1, 2).
But although Paul was not yet ‘’perfect’’ he was ‘pressing on’ to become everything God wanted him to be. He knew that Jesus had taken hold of him for this purpose (12b). He would not settle for moral mediocrity. His heart said to him, ‘I want to have everything Jesus wants me to have.’
‘’…I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward – to Jesus. I’m off and running and I’m not turning back. So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us.’’ The Message.
There was single-mindedness about Paul’s approach to living the Christian life: ‘’But one thing I do…’’ (13). He also realised that Christianity takes effort. He uses the word ‘’straining’’ (13) and he twice employs the expression ‘’I press on’’ (12, 14). (It literally means ‘pursue’, the same word he used for his persecuting activities in verse 6. At one time he went after Christians; now he was going after Christ!) Paul did not think that anyone could live the life of discipleship in their own strength. The effort he expended was God-enabled (Colossians 1:29). But he did know that it takes work to be a good Christian, and he was prepared to roll up his sleeves and labour. He went after God’s best with every fibre of his being, all the while leaning on God’s ability. Do you? Do I?
He believed that ‘’mature’’ believers would see things the same way as he did about progressing in the life of holiness (15). So sure was he about what he was saying on this point that he believed God would put right anyone who disagreed him. ‘’If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision – you’ll see it yet!’’ The Message.
Here, then, are two key challenges from this passage:
- ‘Press on’ to enjoy everything that is yours in Christ;
- ‘Live up’ to what you already know (16); keep on doing those things you know you’re doing right. There is the idea in this verse that we should do this together and not just individually.
Prayer: Lord help me to live this Christian life with an appropriate intensity of desire. Enable me, please, to go hard after all you have for me.