“12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14 NIV
I read that in the 15th century, when Spain led the world, their coins reflected their national arrogance. Inscribed in their coins was the term Ne Plus Ultra which meant “Nothing Further.” This carried the meaning that Spain was the ultimate in all the world. There was “Nothing Further,” for them. After the discovery of the New World, they realized that they were not the “end of the world” so they changed the inscription on their coinage. It then read Plus Ultra which meant, “More Beyond.”
Which motto better expresses your Christian life – “Nothing Further” or “More Beyond”?
If you want to live your Christian life like Paul and strive for “More Beyond,” it is important to know that Christian growth entails the following three things:
1 – Honestly recognize where you are.
“13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.” Philippians 3:13 NIV
It gets me when people who are skinnier that me tell me how fat they are! Especially if they are skinny people! Geez! If you think you are fat, what in the world am I? I must be morbidly, grotesquely, obese!
It gets me that Paul says, “I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.” If there is anyone that has taken a hold and grasps Christian maturity, it is Paul! Paul honestly recognizes that even he had a lot more growth with Christ that needed to occur. For anyone who is satisfied in their Christian walk, they need to remember the example of Paul. He still strives toward growth.
2 – Put the past behind you – your sins, failures; and success.
“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,” Philippians 3:13 NIV
Paul identifies that a key in growing with Jesus is to put behind you past sin and failures. I cannot press into God’s best for my life if I am constantly dwelling on my shortcomings and the failures I have had. I must choose to be “forgetting what is behind…”
Paul also recognized the importance of putting away past successes. While letting go of past sin and failures is a big challenge, it is also of great importance to leave behind whatever successes I have had. I cannot move forward with Jesus if I am dwelling only on the great things He has already done. I must be “forgetting what is behind…”
3 – Put your attention on one thing – Jesus Christ.
“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14 NIV
Jesus Christ must be the “one thing” I am about. Too many Christians live divided lives. We want to get things for our lives. We want to go places. We want to accomplish goals. Paul says, “Not for me… there is one thing I do.” Paul is focused. He is not concerned about getting the latest Apple products although they are fun. He is not concerned with getting the job promotion. He is not given to building a big retirement account. Paul says the one thing that drives him is to forget what lies behind and to strain toward what is ahead. He says the one thing that matters to him is pressing on to the prize for which God has called him.
The Christian life is not a game to be played, but it is a race to be run. It is a race that requires our focus and our very best. What is the “one thing” that is the focus of your life? What is it that you strive for?
Lord my mind is so often distracted. May I grow as Paul did, as a person who is about one thing… Jesus!