The Prize of Heaven
Pray: Ask God to bring you closer in your relationship with Him as you read this passage. Ask him to show you how glorious Jesus’ death and resurrection are, and how worthwhile it is to live your life for Him.
Read: Philippians 3:12-21
It’s just a little over three months away from the Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics, and it will be a big one. Michael Phelps is projected to swim faster than ever in his final Olympics; the slowing Usain Bolt will make his last stand as the world’s fastest man, and Mike Krzyzewski will be coaching Team USA basketball one final time.
The Apostle Paul, the writer of Philippians, was not unfamiliar with the Olympic Games, which began in Ancient Greece. In his letters, he often compares the Christian life to that of competitive runners and fighters, and for good reason. These spectacular athletes spend the first twenty years of their life training to compete on the global level, in hopes of gaining a few hours of notoriety and a medal that will eventually be forgotten. In the Christian life, however, Paul instructs us to spend our lives working to achieve a prize that does not waste away and will not be forgotten: eternal life in Heaven with God.
Here in verse 12, Paul admits that he has not obtained prize of heaven, nor is able to. But he presses on, like an Olympic runner, and will obtain it “because Jesus Christ has made me his own.” Likewise, there is no way we can ever obtain the prize of heaven on our own because we are sinful people. Fortunately, Jesus Christ died for ungodly sinners, like you and me, and has secured for Christians eternal life with Him. In other words, He has made us His own!
In verse 18, Paul speaks of “the enemies of the cross of Christ.” He says that “Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things” (v.19). If that’s how an enemy of the cross lives, how then should a Christian, who has “citizenship is in heaven”, live (v.20)? Well, just the opposite. In Colossians 3:1 Paul writes “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”
As Christians, everything that we put into our minds is to be saturated with the truth of God. This is difficult in an age where everything on the television, on the radio, and on the internet is drawing us away from godly things. With the busy lives we have here in Tallahassee, a dozen things are always competing for our attention at any given moment. That’s why it is so incredibly important to have times in the day where we can get alone in a quiet place, away from the bombarding of the world, and spend time talking with God and soaking in the riches of His Word. And although it is difficult, and can often require sacrifice, we join with Paul and say
“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
1. What sacrifices have you made to know Christ better? When have you had to “strain” and “press on” to know Him better?
2. Do you have a quiet place where you can pray and read your bible, both at work and at home?
3. Who is someone that you know who imitates the life of Paul, and what are actions they take that you could implement in your own life?
4. In what ways do you still live like “the enemies of the cross of Christ?”
Memorize: Colossians 3:1