13. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
The city of Philippi at the time this particular passage of scripture was penned, it was considered the gateway to Europe. This city was named after Phillip of Macedonia, who was the father of Alexander the Great. Philippi was, by all possible points of view, a miniature Rome.
By evangelizing Philippi, this insured that the Gospel would be spread throughout the Roman Empire. The Philippian Church could be considered an ideal church, because it was one which was grateful and generous.
This letter serves as a spiritual love letter of sorts, filled with warmth and gratitude. The Philippian Church had sent Paul a gift. So this letter was a means of Paul saying thank you for their kindness.
Even though this letter was written in the midst of hardship, while Paul was a prisoner, it still shouts victory and joy, because the words “joy” and “rejoicing” are used sixteen times in these four short chapters.
In order to reach our goal, the first thing I want you to bear in mind, you must keep your eyes fixed on your goal- stay focused. Paul had a vision and a goal ahead of him, and he is letting us know that he is keeping his eyes on that goal.
Secondly, you must press on. Paul says, “I press towards the mark…”. Whenever there is a challenge facing you, you must learn how to press on. Paul uses the analogy of a race to show that we are constantly striving toward our goal.
When a runner starts out on the course, he doesn’t carry any unnecessary clothing or baggage. Because the excess weight will slow him down. He doesn’t run constantly looking behind him, because in doing so, he cannot see what dangers may lay in front of him.
No matter how long the race, he doesn’t give up, he doesn’t look back, but he keeps on running, keeps on pressing, keeps on striving, because his goal is to cross the finish line.
John Stephen Akhwari of Tanzania came staggering into the stadium more than an hour behind the winner of the 1968 marathon. After the race he simply said, “My country did not send me to Mexico City to start the race, they sent me to finish the race”.
Ecclesiastes 9:11 lets us know that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but to the one who holds out. God wants us to keep on striving, keep on trying, and to keep moving on; trying to reach our goal. Never give up.
So first of all, we must stay focused, and secondly, we must press on. There’s just one more thing that I want to leave with you, take the Lord with you. No matter what we try to do in life, we need the Lord. I heard Jesus say, “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you”.
Stay with the Lord. Stay in His word. Hide his word in your heart that you may not sin against God.