Twenty years ago, I was blessed to get to know C.W. Bradley, a great gospel preacher and absolute prince of a man. (My kids were infatuated with brother Bradley because I had told them that he preached Elvis Presley’s funeral!) In his gospel meetings, he would often preach from Philippians 3 and the keys to spiritual growth. I always loved his emphasis on Philippians 3:12-14 and the phrase “this one thing I do.” Truth be told, there are several components that comprise this one thing. Let’s consider them in brief.
Paul was not satisfied with his present state: “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected” (v 12). Some look at their present state and become discouraged. For whatever reason, they haven’t grown as they should and become discouraged. Paul did not view his imperfection with discouragement, but rather with determination: “But I press on.”
Paul was not willing to let his past hinder him in his pursuit of Jesus and the power of His resurrection: ‘forgetting those things which are behind” (v 13). This is not to say Paul did not remember the terrible things he had done in persecuting Jesus and His church, for these things were mentioned throughout his public ministry (Acts 26:9-11) and in his own writings (1 Tim 1:13). Our present “cancel culture” is not new. Jewish hypocrites tried to use it against Jesus (John 8:41), and 2000 years earlier, it was used against Jephthah’s (Judges 11). Don’t permit others to use your past to hinder your pursuit of your future!
Paul was determined to reach the prize set before him: “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (v 14). In the previous verse, (but same sentence), Paul spoke of “reaching forward to those things which are ahead.” Pictured here is a man stretching forward to reach his intended end. Think of a runner who, with every fiber of his being, races to the finish and stretches his body forward to be the first across the finish line. Then consider the word here rendered as “press.” It means to be totally committed in pursuit and is rendered “persecute” more than thirty times in the New Testament. Paul was continually stretching in dogged pursuit to be what God intended him to be and what Jesus showed him to be through His own life.
Press on, dear brother!