Straining towards the goal

Philippians 3:12-4:1

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. 13 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, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. 

4 Therefore, my brothers,[a] whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.


Straining Toward the Goal

Paul returns to the imagery of heavenly citizenship (v. 20; cf. 1:27 [ESV footnote]) to depict the complete knowledge, rule, and righteousness of Christ that we will someday see. This future glory is something toward which Paul is “straining forward” to obtain (3:13–14). Paul forgets what lies behind and strains toward what lies ahead, pressing toward the prize in heaven. Paul wants the Philippians to imitate him (v. 17) and any who walk according to his example.

Tearfully, however, Paul points out that many are enemies of the cross (v. 18). They set their minds on earthly things (v. 19) and do not look forward to the return of Christ (v. 21). Their end is destruction (v. 19). This is the destiny of all those whose hearts are not transformed by the gospel.

As those who belong to Christ, we are not to grow too comfortable on earth. Nor are we to be distracted by the pleasures of the earth. Our citizenship is in heaven, where Christ has been exalted (2:9–11). With Paul, we eagerly strain toward our heavenly prize.

*These devos are taken from Crossway's, ESV Gospel Transformation Bible.