Philippians 3:12-4:1

July 30, 2021

Hey friends! I’ve got a question for you: If you could tell me what you spend most of your time thinking about, what would it be?

If you’re not sure, it might help to think about what you pray about the most. I’ve heard it said that “prayer expresses desire” and it totally makes sense when you think about it:

We pray about whatever is most important to us in the moment.

Whether it’s health, peace of mind, money, friends, relief, comfort, and regardless of the depth of your faith, what you pray about expresses what you care about because taking the time to talk to your Creator is something you have to be pretty intentional about, right? And I think it gives us a glimpse into what takes up the most space in our heads.

Paul is in the middle of talking about what is important in life when he throws out this little nugget: “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.” (Philippians 3:13). There’s a couple of things we can understand from this verse:

1.    What we think about matters.

2.    What we do with those thoughts has an impact.

In the first half, Paul tells us about the importance of forgetting what lies behind. Now, he’s not saying don’t ever think of the past. Remembrance is all over Scripture! But what he is saying is that we should not dwell on the past. All the things we’ve done, all the things we have been through, have shaped who we are and who we are becoming. But those things are not our focus.

So this is why I asked what you think about the most: is your focus usually on yourself or your problems? Or is your focus on eternity?

In the very next verse, Paul says “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (V. 14).  If you’re been watching any of the pre-Olympic footage, you’ve probably seen some of the runners. Paul is using Greek Olympic games language here! The word “goal” literally means “goal marker.” A goal marker is the focus of the eye when a runner runs the race. Paul’s focus, his goal marker, was on Christ and eternity with him. What Paul thought about most was eternity!

So the second half of verse 13, Paul encourages us to “strain forward to what lies ahead.” The original phrase for “straining forward” was another athletic metaphor. It brings to mind the straining of muscles, the clarity of focus needed to run the race, and the complete dedication required to finish for the prize. Straining forward required both mental and physical discipline! Basically what he’s saying is this: staying focused on Christ and eternity is difficult, but rewarding. It will impact the way you live your life.

Just like an Olympic runner, you don’t make it to the Olympic Games without being intentional with mental and physical disciplines. You can’t just go for a run once and call yourself an Olympian. It takes hard work and dedication. In the same way, our lives as believers should be intentional and dedicated. It will take the hard work of getting in the Word often and being in relationship with other believers so that you stay encouraged to walk with Jesus toward eternity with him!

While it’s easy to spend our days thinking about all of our problems or wants, both great and small, those thoughts won’t benefit to us! When you’re tempted to complain about your circumstances, try to lay them at the feet of Jesus and turn your eyes toward eternity. Pay special attention to your prayers and what and who you pray for most, and let that spur you toward disciplining yourself to start thinking of the big picture. Your life is more than just the here and now. Your life is even more than your past. Your life and your thoughts and your focus should point toward Heaven! Amen??

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