"Pressing on the Upward Way" - Moving Onward and Upward! Philippians 3:13-15
Here in our text, the Apostle Paul, exhorts the Philippians of this very thing! That as believers in Christ Jesus (he calls us brethren); (v.15) that as many of us that are mature (grown in the Word and the things of God) - "Let us be of the same mind," literally, "let us think this" or "let us hold this opinion," we must tirelessly press "onward and upward" for higher spiritual attainments. (As the song says, "each round goes higher and higher" - it does not say, "easier and easier!")
We should not continue "re-learning" the same basic lessons over and over again, without desiring to grow deeper and higher in the spiritual things of God, not religiously but spiritually.
"but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." (II Peter 3:18) Our moving onward and upward means further development and growth.
As Paul urges the Philippians to move onward and upward, he does not do so without including himself or giving his personal testimony as inspiration and motivation! He gives us some insight as to what we must do to reach our goal. He uses the personal pronoun "I" implying that we must make the press personal, and the keys or steps for moving onward and upward are in verse 13, "Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,"
We have to KEEP REALIZING, KEEP FORGETTING, AND KEEP REACHING!
· REALIZING that we have not yet arrived. Paul lets the Philippians know that no matter what knowledge, skills, or credentials that he has already accomplished in this life, that he counts it as "rubbish that he may gain Christ." Our accomplishments should not hinder us nor cause us to "get the big head" thinking that we have reached the ultimate plateau in life. Nothing should keep us from growing - moving on in Christ. "But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ."(v.7)
· FORGETTING those things behind. (Look closely at this portion of the verse.) It does not say, "Forget" but "forgetting" because it is a continual process of neither allowing past failures nor achievements to keep us from moving onward and upward! In reality, we know that we do remember, however the process of forgetting means that we are not resting on past laurels neither are we pulled back by the guilt of past failures. "Remembering" by holding on to either can mean spiritual disaster! LET THE PAST BE THE PAST, which can be as early as yesterday and as late as 20-30 years ago!
· (AND) REACHING forward to the things which are ahead. We must continue to strive and make every effort to reach for the things that are ahead of us. (A line from a poem by Robert Browning comes to mind (paraphrase) 'If a person's reach does not exceed his grasp, what is heaven for?' Keep pursuing those spiritual attainments which are encompassed in our relationship with Christ - things that help us to "know" (have fellowship with HIM more and more), and cause us to experience a resurrected life - the Power and Suffering thus becoming more like HIM! The Holy Spirit is our Helper and the Word of God is our Fortifier!
"I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (v.14)
Conclusively, when are realizing, forgetting, and reaching, we can "PRESS" which literally means that we can "strain" (as Paul likened this to an Olympic runner); we can "strain and stretch" forward (onward and upward) toward the direction of our "GOAL" - TO KNOW CHRIST and the "PRIZE" - is the joyful personal satisfaction of having attained it, as well as the divine commendation and reward to be granted in heaven (upward) for having reached this goal on earth. The UPWARD CALL OF GOD is the divine summons extended to the believer (you and me) for salvation that is in Jesus Christ our Savior!
In this New Year, let us hear what the Spirit is saying to the church and "Keep pressing on the upward way!" Onward and upward must be a personal commitment and dedication by each of us. Let us move forward together and remember that there is a blessing in pressing! The Apostle Paul knew what it took to press, and certainly these principles worked for him, because when he knew that his time of departure was near, he said, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." (II Timothy 4:7)
JESUS HIMSELF KNEW WHAT IT TOOK TO PRESS, for the Bible says, "…for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2) HALLELUJAH!!!