September 24, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“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. 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, 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)
Have you ever had a goal? Maybe it’s buying a house, being debt free, owning a business, getting married, having kids, or having a restaurant menu item named after you. I once heard it said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” Goals are important, essential even. They help to give us purpose.
In Philippians 3:8–11, the apostle Paul shares his life’s goal with us: “to know Christ,” to “be found in Him,” and to experience “the power of His resurrection.” His ultimate goal was to know Jesus and the power of His resurrection.
Here’s the thing, though . . . to know Jesus is not the same as knowing about Jesus or knowing the content of His teaching. The Greek word used in this passage for know describes intimate, first-hand, contact knowledge, similar to the language used to describe the intimacy between husbands and wives. It’s personal, deep, and experiential, the kind of knowing that can only come through devotion and relationship.
As we come to know Him, we can experience the power of Christ’s resurrection. “That is . . . to experience the same power that raised Christ from the dead surging through [our] own being, overcoming sin in [our lives] and producing the Christian graces” (Kenneth Wuest). In order to know this resurrection power, though, we must first know the way of the cross and die to ourselves, forsaking our old life, self, and ways and surrendering to Christ and His will.
So, now that we understand the goal, what does Paul tell us about the process of achieving the goal? Well, he explains it’s a lifelong process. You see, this goal cannot be reached until we get to heaven. No matter how mature we become as believers, no matter how much fruit is produced in our lives, no matter how intimate our relationship with Jesus becomes, there will never come a point in our earthly lives where we have ARRIVED, where we reach the point of completion and exhaust all room for deeper intimacy and greater growth in our relationship with Him.
I pray we never become complacent and satisfied with our level of depth in knowing Jesus, because that place of complacency is so dangerous! It’s a place where pride, self-righteousness, laziness, and legalism can take hold. It’s a place of temptation that will always result in a fall. Instead, may we follow Paul’s example and press on “toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called [us] heavenward in Christ Jesus.” And what’s the prize? It’s Jesus Himself—eternity with Him in His presence! He’s our great reward!
So, what should our goal be? What should we press on toward? Here’s a simple daily goal: Today, I will know Jesus a little better than I did yesterday. Today, I will walk with Jesus a little closer than I did yesterday. Today, I will look a little more like Jesus than I did yesterday. Repeat this until He calls you heavenward.
Pause: How does this passage reveal Paul’s perspective on both his past, present, and future? How should it shape our own goals?
Practice: Consider what steps you can take to daily press on toward the goal of knowing Jesus and the power of His resurrection more and more each day.
Pray: Father, I pray the words of Paul today. I pray I may “gain Christ and be found in him,” that I may “know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” I pray this may become a greater, more tangible reality in my life every single day. I pray by the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit, I may never become complacent or satisfied with the level of fellowship and intimacy I have with Jesus. I pray that daily, You would draw me deeper into relationship, enable me to experience the power of the resurrection to overcome the power and presence of sin in my life, and make me more like Jesus! Amen.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.