Many times as the new year begins people make resolutions of what they hope to achieve in 2016. I always find it rather humorous that as a member of LA fitness I can assure you that the busiest day of the year at the gym will be the first Monday after the new year. That will last for about two weeks. But I think Paul’s approach to having a focus on the future is really the approach that we should take as we enter 2016. Paul writes to the Philippians and he says, “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus,” (Phil.3:13,14 NIV). Paul recognized that he hadn’t apprehended the goal for which Christ had called him, yet he comes before the Lord as one strenuously pressing towards that goal. May God help each of us in this coming year to pursue a relationship with Jesus Christ in the same manner. When Paul says he was forgetting what was behind the Greek language means completely forgetting. Last fall during an athletic event in track and field one of the runners from a university began to wave his hands to the audience to cheer for him as he approached the finish line in 1st place. In fact he was so busy soliciting applause that another runner caught up to him and passed him right at the wire. As Christians we must keep our eyes on the goal, and that is to know Christ better and to be daily connected with His resurrection power. We can’t concern ourselves with our past mistakes or failures. Too many Christians are shackled by regrets from the past and are trying to run the race looking backward and that’s not helpful, neither does it help to run the Christian race by being enamored with the successes of the past or past accomplishments or the way things used to be. That doesn’t help us to prepare for the race tomorrow.
You can’t run a very good race if you’re thinking about how poorly you broke out of the blocks the last time or boasting about how great your first few strides were. Remember the mark of Christ likeness is the goal for which we strive in Christian discipleship. Paul says, “this one thing I do”. Paul had no illusions about himself but kept pressing forward to lay hold of Jesus Christ with a divine dissatisfaction. The Bible is our landmark to show us whether we are progressing or regressing and we should never come to a point of plateauing or being self-satisfied with our spiritual accomplishments. Certainly if Paul wasn’t satisfied we shouldn’t be satisfied either. Paul’s hope for the future was found in verse 14 where he says, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which Christ has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”. Paul’s goal was then to keep moving on in his knowledge and fellowship with the Lord until he heard the Lord say, “well done my good and faithful servant”. Again Paul uses a series of athletic metaphors to show us the strenuous effort needed to run the Christian life. A person does not become a winning athlete by listening to lectures, watching movies or reading books. To become a winning athlete you have to get into the game and give it your all. To participate in the ancient Greek games which are the parent of our current day Olympics athletes had to be a citizen of the city they were competing for. God is calling us from above and think what would be like if as individuals and as a church we committed ourselves to make our relationship with Jesus Christ our top priority in 2016. This upward call is a call from heaven that will finally take us to heaven but for now we must press on and seek the prize to which God has called us. God is delighted when we press on in our Christian life and that pressing on leads to the growth and development of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. When we consider the coming year don’t be satisfied with what’s already been accomplished, it’s easy for us to overestimate or underestimate our spiritual attainment. It’s easy to become complacent but don’t take your eyes off of the prize that God has a great future for us if we will simply trust Him to work in our lives. In 2016 don’t be satisfied with less than God’s best for your life. Run the Christian race with the relentless determination to be conformed into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ.