DETERMINATION

“Although I have not reached full maturity yet, I strive to capture that which Jesus has for me, because I have been captured by Him. Brothers, although I am still not all that I should be, this one thing I concentrate on, forgetting what is past, I stretch forward to the things that are in front of me. I strain and press toward the goal at the end of the race, eager for the prize of heaven, because of what Jesus has done for me.” (paraphrased)

Paul determines to do “one thing”…yet at first glance it might seem that forgetting, reaching and pressing forward are actually three separate things. For Paul, however, it is one complete package. He knows he cannot progress forward while looking backward. (Luke 9:62). Although he has not yet reached full maturity in Christ, he is making progress. Paul seems to be dissatisfied with how little he knows about Jesus and how little he is like Him. He is more interested in a deeper intimacy with His Lord than release from prison.

Paul uses the analogy of runners in a foot race throughout this passage. In order to progress he must leave the past behind him and press forward to lay hold of the prize. He is driven to discover the reason Jesus bestows such great mercy upon him. Paul forges ahead with great determination to win the race, allowing nothing to slow him down. Because of his great zeal for God, Paul can rejoice amid challenging circumstances. 

“Count” (logizomi) is an accounting term. Paul does not figure he completely comprehends God’s purpose for his life. However, he calculates the sufferings of this present world are unworthy of comparison with the glories of the next world.

Paul puts out of his mind anything that may impede his progress. The word “forgetting” here is epilanthanomenos and bespeaks a deliberate, conscious effort to not dwell on the past. Although no one can completely forget their disappointments, Paul indicates he does not allow his future to be negatively impacted by dwelling on the past. He learns both from his former mistakes as a Pharisee and his current experiences as a Christian. Positive and negative experiences are all stepping stones as he progresses forward for God. To look back can breed discouragement, disappointment and defeatism. Paul never seems to worry about things he cannot change.

One primary reason for Paul’s success is singleness of purpose. “Reaching forth” is another running analogy and depicts a racer spurring himself on, leaning forward as he runs. The picture Paul paints here is of one straining to reach the finish line and receive the trophy. The writer to the Hebrews tells us to lay aside every weight and sin that so easily besets us and run the race set before us (12:1). Paul tells the Corinthians to “run, in order to attain” (I Cor 9:24-16). Although he has not reached his goal, he is determined to reach it (v.13). Facing execution a few years later, he writes to Timothy: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (II Tim. 4:6-8).

Getting saved is the starting line, not the finish line. We must continue to run with a focused determination that is free from distractions. The first law of foot racing is never to look back. Many Christians today are tempted to look around to see what others are doing. Jesus tells Peter not to worry about John’s future, but to concentrate on following Him (John 21:22).

Although Paul is in jail, he will not fail. He realizes incarceration alone will not spiritually mature him, so he uses his jail time for spiritual development. He knows he is born for a purpose and will not slow down until he discovers why. He is still in the race, more determined than ever to visualize what is ahead. Despite his trials, Paul has the attitude of a runner resolved to reach the goal, confident God will help him complete the race. The Apostle will allow nothing to break his concentration, although it is a marathon that will ultimately cost him his life.

DETERMINATION - STUDY QUESTIONS

MULTIPLE CHOICE

1. Several times in the book of Philippians, the Christian life is compared to:
A. a wedding
B. a marriage supper
C. a footrace
D. a philosophy
E. none of the above

2. Paul is determined:
A. not to dwell on the past
B. to concentrate on the future
C. not to be discouraged
D. finish his race
E. all of the above

3. According to Matthew 14:30-32, Peter begins to rise above his circumstances when he:
A. called upon Jesus to help him
B. took hold of Jesus hand
C. listened to Jesus
D. trusted Jesus
E. all of the above

DETERMINATION - REFLECTION

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR COUPLES

1. As a couple, read Matthew 14:25-33. How can this story be an encouragement to your family?

 

2. Paul is determined not to give in to discouragement, regardless of his circumstances. What marital events are the most likely to depress you? What steps can you take to rise above your circumstances?

 

 

3. Satan wants you to live in the past, wallowing in misery. When Jesus forgives your sins, He absolves you of all accompanying guilt as well. What forms of guilt have you carried into your marriage? Discuss with your spouse how such guilt can be resolved.

 

 


ESSAY QUESTIONS FOR INDIVIDUALS

1. Read Matthew 14:25-33. How can this story be an encouragement to you?

 

2. Paul is determined not to give in to discouragement, regardless of his circumstances. What events in your life are most likely to depress you? What steps can you take to rise above your circumstances?

 

3. Satan wants you to live in the past, wallowing in misery. When Jesus forgives your sins, He absolves you of the accompanying guilt as well. What forms of guilt do you still carry? Write a paragraph concerning how such guilt can be resolved.

 


Comments

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.