Devotional – July 28, 2004

Thus says the Word of God:

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:14, ESV)

Paul the apostle talks about his background and his religious and intellectual credentials some verses before; he certainly had “reason for confidence in the flesh”. But he also told us that it lacked any meaningful importance in light of the highest importance of the calling that consumed his life with irresistible passion. However, it seems that not all of the Apostle’s background was “rubbish”, since it is frequent to read how the Apostle applied illustrations drawn from athletic and military life to Christianity.

And this text is no exception. Paul compares himself to an Olympic runner, willing to leave everything behind for the sake of glory and the laurel crown. Like the life of an Olympic athlete, Christian life is a constant struggle that must be grounded in a discipline that is both strict and full of purpose. The Christian is not someone aimlessly wandering through life, but a focused ahtlete with a well-defined goal, called to deny himself in countless personal sacrifices for the sake of reaching the goal.

This text reminds us of Proverbs 24:16, which proclaims that “the righteous falls seven times and rises again.” It is a text that speaks of an iron-clad, absolute and unique determination, a resolve which acknowledges obstacles in the road, but that is also willing to deal with them, because the athlete is moved by the overcoming force of God’s call in Jesus Christ.

May our loving Father give us the same passion that quickened Paul the apostle, so that we might run with the strength of the Spirit towards the goal of the highest call of his Son Jesus Christ.

Almighty and Eternal Father, who give life to the dead and call into existence the things that do not exist: grant us the strength of the Holy Spirit, our Lord and Giver of Life, so that we might run towards the goal set by your Son, and thus be worthy of your calling and stand as faithful witnesses of your Gospel in the way of our lives. By Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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