“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. 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, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14
About four years ago I started doing something that I never thought I would do. I started running. I was always the guy who loved to lift weights but hated any kind of cardio workouts simply because I don’t enjoy feeling nauseated or like I am going to pass out. This all changed when I turned thirty years old. I woke up one morning and realized how out of shape I had become and was disgusted with myself. I knew that things were going to have to change so I stopped drinking sodas and began running pretty regularly. This was no easy task but I had to learn to take it one step at a time. I couldn’t expect to be able to run a 5k in a week, but just had to focus on moving forward.
Paul uses the analogy of running in Philippians 3:12-14 when he speaks of pressing on or straining forward. In the third chapter of Philippians Paul speaks about his past and great worldly accomplishments, but then goes on to say that he counts it all as loss compared to having a relationship with Jesus. He shared his story of how Jesus transformed his life, however, he claimed that he hadn’t quite arrived to where he wanted to be. He was still a work in progress but would continue to move forward. God has called us all to move forward in our relationship with Him. We are all currently at a different place spiritually, but God desires us all to take our next steps and move forward. It’s easy to become stagnant, complacent, or apathetic but we must keep moving. Here are three ways we can avoid becoming stagnant.
Forget The Past But Never Forget The Past
When Paul spoke of moving forward he said that he was going to forget what was behind him. Paul definitely had a past and a dark one that surely haunted him often. We all have a past and the enemy often uses this to try and distract us or stop us from being effective in the kingdom. As Paul stated we must leave the past behind and recognize that it does not define us anymore. We have a new identity and a new name in Christ. The old person is dead and we have been raised to new life in Christ Jesus so we cannot allow past mistakes to keep us from moving forward. It is the past! Done! Forgiven! At the same time we must never forget the past as far as remembering where God has brought us. We must never forget where we come from! By always remembering how the grace of God brought us through in the past, we will be reminded that this same grace will get us through our current circumstance that is keeping us from moving forward. God came through before and He will come through again. He freed me from that sin in the past, and He can free me from this sin that I currently struggle with so I can and will move forward by His grace.
Many of us often settle for less than God’s best for our lives whether it’s our own spiritual walk, relationships, or career path. God has offered a feast at His table, and we often settle for scraps that fall on the floor. I find it interesting how Paul is in prison for following Christ and could have easily just gone into cruise mode. He could have just given up and quit by assuming that God must be done with him. However, he was not willing to settle based on his circumstances. He vowed to continue to move forward toward the goal and had a desire to know Jesus in such a way that he never had before. He knew that since he was not dead, that God was not done. If Paul can move forward while in prison than we can move forward despite what our circumstances may be. In fact your circumstances just might be the vehicle in which the gospel will go forth in your circle in ways that it never has before. Let’s not settle and think that our current circumstance is reason to just ride things out until the end. Keep moving forward.
Make Jesus Known
I love how Paul has been following Jesus for years yet he still shares his story. Our story of redemption never gets old because its God’s story from our salvation perspective. As we move forward we must make Jesus known in everything we do and a great way to do that is to share our story and nobody can share your story better than you. The purpose of this is not to glorify ourselves but to glorify God by highlighting His work of grace in our lives as He raised us from death to life. That’s what Paul did many times throughout his life and its what we should do as well. I know that some of you are already thinking: “Wait a minute Trey, I don’t really have an amazing testimony. I wasn’t some drug dealer on the street who was in a car that flipped thirty times. I was just a five year old at Vacation Bible School and realized that I was a sinner before God and needed Jesus to save me and trusted in Him.” If that is your simple redemption story then all I can say is WOW!!!! You have just proclaimed that you realized that you were a sinner separated from a holy God, yet He loved you so much He was willing by grace to adopt you into His family as His son or daughter. That is powerful guys and worth sharing! Regardless of our experience the amazing part of the story is the miracle of death becoming life and orphans becoming sons and daughters. I don’t know your story but if you belong to Jesus you have a story and it needs to be shared.
It is so easy to allow apathy to set into our hearts, minds, and emotions but we must keep moving forward. I want to have the heart of Paul and never let myself become stagnant regardless of what my current situation may be. Let’s continue to run the race, leave the past behind, and press ahead.