“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
Résumés reveal a lot about people. This small document typically contains the most important information about us, along with our greatest achievements. We use it to convince others that we are good enough for a particular position. Because of this, job applicants are notorious for exaggerating their résumés. They stretch the truth, or just flat out lie in order to make themselves sound better than they really are. On the other hand, some people with impressive résumés may define their lives by what’s on that paper; it’s not just about what they have done, but it describes who they are—they find their value as a person in all of their past success. No matter what our résumés are like, our lives should consist of so much more than taking pride in a bullet-point list of accomplishments on a single page.
In this passage of Scripture, the Apostle Paul shares his spiritual résumé of his past. Before his conversion, Paul (formerly, Saul) had every right to boast about his religious works as a zealous Pharisee. His credentials stood out among the Jews (vv.5-6), but instead of framing it and putting it on a wall, he essentially rips it to pieces. Everything changed when he met Jesus. He found a faith that isn’t based on his own righteousness, but on the righteous life of Jesus Christ, who alone provides salvation. He lost all of his past credentials, but he counted them as “rubbish” (garbage, manure), because of the surpassing worth his newfound goal in life: knowing Jesus and pursuing His calling.
After seeing who he really was (a sinner), and who Christ really is (a Savior), Paul now had tunnel-vision in his pursuit of God. The one thing he wanted to do was to forget his past and to now focus on his faith in Jesus. Like running a race, Paul didn’t want to be slowed down by looking behind at his past, so he kept his eyes upon the finish line of heaven. He knew that he was far from being perfect, but the prize of being with Jesus for eternity motivated him to live for Jesus on earth.
Paul’s new résumé read: “For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order 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 comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” (Philippians 3:8-9).
Jesus is the only one with a flawless résumé, and because of his perfect life and sacrificial death, we can forsake our vain attempts of trying to earn God’s approval and enjoy the free gift of eternal life.
Paul’s pursuit of the ultimate prize—the eternal benefits of knowing Christ—affected everything he did. No matter what the situation or circumstance, his goal was to live like Jesus and to live for Jesus. This “one thing” affects every other thing in life. It changes who we are, what we do, and why we exist. Knowing Christ is the greatest goal of life, and it is the only thing that is worth pursuing with all of our being. Like Paul, “strain forward” and “press on” to know Jesus and to live in His righteousness.
Search the Scriptures:
- 2 Timothy 4:7-8
- 2 Corinthians 5:17
- Galatians 2:20
- 1 Corinthians 15:9-10
Questions to Consider:
- In comparison to works-based religion, Paul said that the true people of God “glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh” (v.4). What are some ways that you are tempted to put confidence in yourself, rather than in God?
- How should we view our past failures, struggles, accomplishments, and victories? How does the gospel change who we once were?
- As you survey all the areas of your life, is it clear that knowing Jesus is the greatest goal of your life?