Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one that I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”Philippians 3:12-14
My whole life I have been highly competitive. I played sports, loved watching sports, and being on teams. But I have found that sometimes that competitive drive shows up in some interesting places. For example, before the virus and staying home, my husband and I would take different cars to church. I have to be at church early and he comes later with the kids for Sunday School. We both leave church at the same time and I always find myself working very hard to be the first one in the driveway. I want to “win.” Not that there is a prize or anything. There aren’t even bragging rights. It’s just an internal need to be “first.” My kids have even picked up on this and for the 5 minutes it takes us to drive from church to our house, the question is constantly, “Where is Daddy, and will we beat him home????”
I want to be the first to turn in paperwork in the office. I want to beat others to the lunch table. I want to be the first to get to work in the morning. I want my kids teams to win every time. What is most interesting is that most people have no idea they are in a competition with me!
While many times this competitive nature rears it’s ugly head at inopportune times, (my 6 year old’s non-competitive softball game!) once I started focusing on this scripture I found that my focus has moved from winning or being first, to the concept that giving my very BEST to God is a “win” every time.
The goal to following Christ is not winning something, because I already won when I accepted Him. It wasn’t because I got to the house first. It was because I surrendered my everything to Him. In my giving up I “won” eternity with God. But that giving up is a daily thing. As Paul says in this scripture, we haven’t arrived at the goal yet. We press on toward it. Everyday making strides closer to Christ and closer to eternity with Him. Closer to looking like Him, closer to loving people better. Because I “won” the prize of grace and mercy I don’t have to compete for God’s attention or affection. I already have it. I’ll never lose it. But that doesn’t mean I don’t strive to give my best.
I press on. Letting go of what has come before: anger, pain, heartache, mistakes, disappointments, failures, fears, lost friendships, broken relationships. If I hold on to them, I can’t move forward. They will weigh me down too much. So, as Paul says, I strain forward. I work hard to let go, to release, so I can see the prize, so I can move toward it. Just as an athlete must work to get better at a skill if they want to improve, we must work at getting better at letting go so we can improve on moving closer to Christ. Looking more like Him.
I don’t focus on winning, but on doing the best I can. Living the best I can. Showing my best to others. Letting them see the best because I follow the best God. Now, that doesn’t mean that competitive nature doesn’t seep in sometimes. A little competition in the right places with the right attitude can be motivating. But when it’s all about me and feeding my ego and feelings it’s missed the point. It’s a constant battle to align my desire to “win” for MY sake with my desire to do and be my best so people see GOD and not me.
Press on my friends, to do your next best thing, to the best of your ability, with honor, integrity, passion, and joy. And know that the God of all creation has the very best thing for you.