"I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
a healthy dissatisfaction Published week of january 10, 2021
One of my heroes in the Bible is the Apostle Paul. To me, I see Paul as the greatest Christian who ever lived. He was a strong and committed soldier of the faith but yet here in verse 14 Paul reiterates that he is pressing on, toward the goal to win the prize. As I read this verse, I ask the question, 'Why should a Christian, if he already has Jesus through faith, still “press” on towards Him as Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippians?'
Isn’t salvation the prize? Well, apparently it is not. In fact, salvation is not the goal or the prize. Salvation is what comes as a result of pursuing the prize. The prize is Christ and the goal is to know Him. He is the author (Hebrews 5:12), finisher (Revelation 21:6) and the subject of our faith. Wow, this perspective changes everything. If we make salvation or heaven our goal, then once our eternity is secured, what motivation do we have to “press” on as Paul wrote? Certainly, we would agree that as Christians we should long for heaven, but we should long for heaven because it is there that we will finally see Jesus face to face.
Paul’s goal was to know Christ and his prize was to be with Him forever. Seventeenth century minister and author Matthew Henry once said, “Wherever there is true grace, there is a desire for more grace.” We run hard after Christ in order to know Him more. Such desire and pursuit proves that we have experienced His true saving grace. We “press” on because God has adopted us as His own children. What child doesn’t want to know His earthly father? It delights a son to commune with his father. How much more, then, should it delight us to grow in relationship with our perfect Heavenly Father?
So this begs the question, 'How do we run hard after Jesus?' First, by forgetting what is behind (Philippians 3:13). This certainly does not mean that we never look back. Rather, it means that we should only look back for the sake of pressing forward. Then, we strain towards what is ahead (Philippians 3:13). We must set our hearts on the True Goal and then order all else around Him instead of squeezing Him in to an already-full calendar.
None of this is possible without an attitude of dissatisfaction. Paul began this passage by acknowledging that he had not “arrived” spiritually. Despite the mighty ways God was using him, the souls he had seen converted, the churches he had planted, or his suffering for the sake of the gospel, the bottom line was that he wanted more and more of Christ Jesus. What about you? Are you comfortable where you are, or does your heart long to know Him more?
“Heavenly Father, please cultivate within me a holy dissatisfaction in my soul that will cause me to love your Son. I long to know you in a greater way. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”