“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Philippians 3:13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, Philippians 3:14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12–14 NKJV)
These verses are characterized by action terms. Paul is using very descriptive language to describe his Christian race. Note these five great statements made by the Apostle.) 1. V. 12b I Press On - Literally - "To run swiftly in order to catch a person, or a thing." It has reference to a hunter pursuing his prey. It also has the idea of a runner chasing the finish line. Whatever the goal, the picture is of pursuit. For Paul it was the hope of "apprehending" something. That word means "to lay hold on" What Paul is saying is, "I am pursuing the goal of laying hold on all that Jesus laid hold on me for." He realized that he had been saved for a purpose and that God had a plan for his life. Paul would not be satisfied until he had apprehended that for which he had been apprehended! (Ill. Complacency is a blight that saps energy, dulls attitudes, and causes a drain on the brain. The first symptom is satisfaction with things as they are. The second is rejection of things as they might be. "Good enough" becomes today's watchword and tomorrow's standard. Complacency makes people fear the unknown, mistrust the untried, and abhor the new. Like water, complacent people follow the easiest course -- downhill. They draw false strength from looking back. !)
V. 13a This One Thing I do - Paul was a specialist! Just like an Olympic athlete, Paul specialized in one thing: reaching the goal. Notice that he left the past behind him and he reached for the future. A man excels when he specializes. If you want to know the secret of Paul's success, it is that Paul had a one track mind! Nothing was as important to him as was pleasing the Lord! (Ill. The 1992 Summer Olympics featured two tremendously poignant moments. American sprinter Gail Devers, the clear leader in the 100 meter hurdles, tripped over the last barrier. She agonizingly pulled herself to her knees and crawled the last five meters, finishing fifth--but finishing. Even more heart-rending was the 400 meter semifinal in which British runner Derek Redmond tore a hamstring and fell to the track. He struggled to his feet and began to hobble, determined to complete the race. His father ran from the stands to help him off the track, but the athlete refused to quit. He leaned on his father, and the two limped to the finish line together, to deafening applause!)
3. V. 13b Forgetting Those Things Which Are Behind - Paul said, "I refuse to look behind me at my past." The word forgetting means, "To cease to be affected by." If you run with your eye on past successes, then you will have the tendency to lay back and rest on your accomplishments. If you run with your eye on your past failures, then you will tend to stay back for fear of failing again! (Ill. There is another thought that needs to be mentioned here. As you are running for the Lord stop looking at how others are doing in the race! There will always be those are able to outrun you and there will be others who will lag behind, or even drop out of the race. Don't worry about what others are doing, you duty is to run to please the Lord Jesus Christ! When we run, He should be the sole focus of our attention, Heb. 12:1-2.) “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1–2 NKJV)
4. V. 13c Reaching Forward - This phrase pictures the runner in a race as he nears the finish line. He can be seen to lean forward and strain for the goal. Paul tells us that he is "reaching out with all he has" to be sure that he wins his race! (Ill. The Greeks had a race in their Olympic games that was unique. The winner was not the runner who finished first. It was the runner who finished with his torch still lit. I want to run all the way with the flame of my torch still lit for Him.!) 5. V. 14a I Press Toward The Goal - The word goal refers to the "goal that one has in view." In other words, Paul was oblivious to his surroundings, he was just heading for the goal. He wanted to finish well. Notice that when he did reach the end of his life, he was able to leave behind the testimony that he had indeed run well.
"For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:" 2 Tim 4:6-7.)
(Ill. In The Last Days Newsletter, Leonard Ravenhill tells about a group of tourists visiting a picturesque village who walked by an old man sitting beside a fence. In a rather patronizing way, one tourist asked, "Were any great men born in this village?" The old man replied, "Nope, only babies." A frothy question brought a profound answer. There are no instant heroes--whether in this world or in the kingdom of God. Spiritual growth takes time, and spiritual leadership must be earned!)