What is Your Goal in Life?
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 3:13-14)
What is your ultimate goal in life? Do you have any goals, or do you merely follow the circumstances of life and just try to survive?
Paul was a person with definite goals in life. As we have seen in previous articles, he was afflicted with some kind of physical disability and suffered from sickness. But he never used his illness as an excuse to give up or stop him from accomplishing God’s purpose in his life. He was driven by his purpose in life which defined his goals:
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 thing 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)
So what is “this” that he had not yet obtained, and what is “it” that he had not taken hold of yet? These terms refer back to what he had just written in the previous verses:
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:7-11)
These verses make it very clear what it was that Paul valued in life: “the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Paul was very well educated and once had a very prominent status in society as a leader in his religious class, but that became worthless to him in comparison to the value he placed on “knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” This value and desire shaped his ultimate goal in life: “I want to know Christ…” He already knew Christ as he had met him on the road to Damascus many years earlier, but he saw his relationship to Christ as a continuing growth process. He learned each day how to live more by faith and how to allow Christ’s power to work through him in increasingly greater ways during the difficult circumstances he faced. “Knowing Christ” was not a one-time event for Paul, but a daily learning experience that one day culminates after dying the physical death and meeting Christ face-to-face in the resurrection: Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12) Christ knows us perfectly, but we don’t know him perfectly yet.
Paul wrote these words to the church at Philippi while sitting in prison. He understood that the result of knowing Christ and serving him was a road of suffering and persecution. So when rough times came, they did not cause him to alter his course through life. He saw that his sufferings in his service to Christ were a way of sharing in Christ’s sufferings, which result in physical death, but then a resurrection from the dead in triumphal power. So he did not set his heart on or value the things of this world, because he knew where his true citizenship was, and what kind of future awaited him:
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (Philippians 3:20-21)
What is your ultimate goal in life? Are you running the race of the course set before you with the goal of winning the prize that God has for you in the future? Do you realize that our sickly “lowly bodies” and sufferings are part of this temporary life, but that those whose citizenship is in heaven have new bodies waiting for them in a place where there is no suffering and death? Are you consumed with the needs and troubles of this life, or are you consumed, like Paul was, with knowing Christ more? We live in a day and age that values physical knowledge and science built upon a faulty foundation of faith in evolution. But the value of knowing Christ has far greater advantages, especially in the life to come, and is a value that should shape our goals in this life as we look to finish the course God has set before us. What is your goal today, and for the future before you? As you look to the future, is knowing Christ better one of your goals?
I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ. (Philippians 3:8)