Over the last week, the short phrase press on kept passing through my thoughts. Whenever I hear repetitive words like these in my mind, I do a Word search so that I can better understand what the Lord might be speaking to my heart. The first “press on” verse that I looked up is probably a familiar one to us all.
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. Phil. 3:14
What is Paul talking about in this emphatic statement of his? What is he leaving behind, and why is he straining forward? I think the answer can be found in the passage that comes just before this verse. Paul had just finished giving the reader his elaborate pedigree: he was…of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews, as to the law, a Pharisee…(Phil 3:5). In other words, Paul was a man among men, a ruler of the law, as well as a strict rule follower. What he did defined who he was.
So is this religious reputation what Paul is choosing to forget? Yes, I believe it is. He continues to declare, But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord… that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death. Phil. 3:7, 10
Like Paul, we Christians must leave behind the suddle snare of rule-following religion, and press on to know the Person of Jesus Christ. So pressing on begins with sitting still. The religious man can’t be still because his reputation is at stake. But the Born-Again-Man wouldn’t miss sitting still with His Savior because there he finds out that he is already made righteous, and that his reputation is one of royalty.
So let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the down; and He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth. Hosea 6:3
The freeing truth is that when we are pressing on to know Christ, obedience then follows, just they way fruit is birthed from a healthy branch on a vine after a spring rain. If we are willing, He will graciously and beautifully use every bit of who we are, our strengths and our weaknesses, for the glory of His name. In our strengths, we will understand the power of His resurrection, and in our weaknesses, we will share His sufferings and become more like the One who suffered for the sake of others.
I will end with the same “press on” verse that I started with, except in the Message:
By no means am I an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward–to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. Phil. 3:14