phillipians 3:12-21 [straining toward the goal]

run the race

Written by Eric

July 13, 2011

run the race

[serialposts]Read Philippians 3:12-21 (ESV, NIV, The Message)

Paul broke with his past. All his gains he regarded as loss. Nothing of this world mattered to him anymore now that he is aware of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus.

So begins the third chapter of Paul’s letter to the Philippians. His vision has been transformed. He is looking ahead in pursuit of his desire to know Christ and share in His sufferings that he might attain resurrection.

And the race begins in verse 12.

“Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.” 3:12 (NASB)

He acknowledges his salvation, the blessings he has received yet he breaks from them, forgets them, leaving what lies behind, and continues to strive to reach his goal of being in the glory of Christ. In verses following he encourages the Philippians to “keep focused on that goal” (vs. 15 The Message) and avoid the enemies of the cross. Letting them know that if their attitude, their commitment isn’t total, God will reveal it to you, He will clear your blurred vision (vs. 15 The Message/NASB).

Isn’t that the nature of our journey, of our race? We are running our course. Striving toward our goal – our desire to know Christ but we get sidetracked. Called off the path we are to follow. We begin to follow or find other goals – career goals, personal goals, material goals. Goals that distract. Goals that lead us down Peterson’s “easy street” which turns out to be a “dead end street” when all we listen to is our own appetites.

Paul continues in this vein of worldly versus divine desires by talking of our citizenship being in heaven, to wait for Christ to transform us from this humble and earthly being into His glory.

It is this race. It is this journey. It is this striving. It is this path we follow that will allow us to come to the end of our time here on earth and say, with Paul, that we “have fought the good fight, [we] have finished the race, [we] have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing,” (2 Timothy 4:7-8)

Keep up your marathon. Stay focused on the path. Listen for His direction when you stray. Let us all meet when we break the ribbon at the end of the race and receive His glory.


  1. Sheila Seiler Lagrand

    The distractions are so tempting. Thanks for the reminder to focus on the tape stretched across the line.

  2. Daniel Humphries

    I can’t help but wonder about the distractions of the first century as compared to the ones we face in our modern age. I can totally see Paul taking advantage of his Blackberry, but somehow I doubt he would be using it to forward nasty, bellyaching emails about Nero’s policies. But I digress…

    I love the way Paul (and Eric) reminds us to shift our focus heavenward, and to strive towards keeping it that way. I realize there are a myriad of things that can draw my attention away from the mission God’s put before me. The trick, for me, is to recognize when that’s happening before the heavenward focus slips to the periphery of my life. That ribbon sits out before us as a constant reminder of what we should all be aiming for. Part of our training has to be learning what things help us along in this marathon journey and which things we must push aside.

  3. Anonymous

    The brethren of The Messiah have taken heed unto The Call to “Come Out of her, MY people!”! And they no longer have their portion with those who follow “the broad way that leads to destruction”! (Revelation 18:4, Matthew 7:13)Thankfully they are but “aliens and pilgrims while on the earth” for their “citizenship is in Heaven”! (Hebrews 11:13, 1Peter 2:11, Philippians 3:20)So it is that they have “Come Out” of the systems that are of this wicked world, and especially it’s systems of religion! And they have taken heed unto the exhortation to:“Love Not The World””For the WHOLE(not just a portion) world is under the control of the evil one”……. (I John5:19) John testified, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world will pass away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of The Only True GOD will abide for ever.”(IJohn2:15-17)The Messiah testified, “If you were of the world, the world would love it’s own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said unto you, the servant is not greater than his Master. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also.” (John15:19-20)James testified, “Where do wars and fighting among you come from? Do they not come of your lusts that war in your members? You lust, and have not: you kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: you fight and war yet you have not, because you ask not. You ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts. You adulterers and adulteresses, don’t you know that friendship with the world is to be at enmity with The Only True GOD? Therefore whoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy of The Only True GOD.” (James 4:1-4)The Messiah testified, “The world cannot hate you; but the world hates Me, because I testify that the works of this world are evil.” (John 7:7)” And Paul testified, “The Messiah gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of The Only True God, Our Father.”(Gal 1:4) The Messiah testified: “If the world hates you know that it hated Me before it hated you.”(John 5:18) Truly, Truly, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone: but if it die it brings forth much fruit. He that loves his life in this world shall lose it; and he that hates his life in this world shall have it unto life eternal.” (John 12:24-25)John testified: “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hates you.” (I John 3:13) James testified, “Whoever would be a friend of this world is the enemy of GOD!” (James4:4)”Come Out of her, MY people”!”Come Out” of the systems that are of this wicked world, especially it’s systems of religion for they but carry on the legacy of the pharisee’s ;-(Global warming, polluted air, land and waters; toxic wastes, sexual perversion, evil inventions of destruction, systems of religion, lies, deception, delusion, greed, hate, carnal warfare, dis-ease(no-peace),,etc,, are all destructive processes that have their root in “the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life” which caused Eve to fall victim to ‘d’evil, and which continue to fuel the fires of mankind’s “imag”ination ;-( “Come out from among them and be separate”!Do not have your portion with those who are destroying Creation(air, water, land, vegetation, creatures) and perverting that which is Spirit(Truth, Light, Life, Love, Peace, Grace, Faith,,,, All that is Truly Good)! Peace, in spite of the dis-ease(no-peace) that is of this world and it’s systems of religion, for “the WHOLE(not just a portion) world is under the control of the evil one” indeed and Truth……(1 John 5:19) Truth IS, a lie never was and is not……. Abide in Truth……. francis

  4. Diana Trautwein

    Eric – thank you for this thoughtful reflection. I am grateful for your words here and for your call to keep focused on the goal and let all else fade away.


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phillipians 3:12-21 [straining toward the goal]

by Eric time to read: 2 min