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Racing to Win!

I don’t watch a lot of Nascar racing, but I found myself watching the end of Sunday’s race in Atlanta, and I was glad I did! It was the closest finish I’ve ever seen. Three cars were stacked side-by-side as they crossed the finish line in a virtual tie. It was a photo finish with the winner crossing the line just .003 of a second faster than the second and third place cars! Maybe that has happened before, but I’ve never seen it. Those drivers were all striving toward that finish line… all “in it to win it!” 

You may not pay much attention to racing, but the truth is, the Bible actually teaches about it! In fact, in Philippians 3:12-16, the Apostle Paul explains that as Believers, we are all racing toward the finish line of life, striving to win! We aren’t competing against others, but we are pressing on toward the goal to win, to finish the race of life strong and to live up to the salvation we have been given in Christ. 

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained. Philippians 3:12-16

When Paul speaks of straining toward what is ahead and pressing on toward a goal, he’s not talking about attaining or striving for salvation. We know that salvation comes through faith, not works. (Phil 3:1-11) What Paul is referencing in this passage is becoming more like Christ every day, maturing in our faith, growing deeper in our relationship with Him.

Paul’s life goal was to gain a deeper knowledge and intimacy with Jesus. Paul wasn’t content to know about Jesus or to know of Jesus; he wanted to know Him in a real and personal way, to be like Him; to honor Him in every aspect of his life. Paul wanted to know Jesus and to make Jesus known! Nothing mattered more to Paul than that.

Does knowing Jesus and making Jesus known matter to you? Does anything matter more to you than that? In life, we are racing toward our ultimate award which awaits us in heaven; but while on Earth, we are “in it to win it,” to grow, mature and fulfill the purpose for which we have been saved! In this passage we discover the four desires of a winner that propelled Paul and will propel us forward in our faith journey too. 

1) The desire to perfom better. (Philippians 3:12-13a)

Paul was not satisfied with where he was in his faith journey. He was not complacent. Obviously he was satisfied with Jesus, but he wasn’t satisfied with where he was in his faith walk. He wanted to do better; he knew he could do better. Warren Wiersbe writes: “A sanctified dissatisfaction is the first essential to progress in the Christian race.” 

One mark of mature Believers is the acknowledgement that we can always perform better. Mature Christ-followers are never satisfied with where they are in their faith journey.  They always want to “perform better” for Christ’s sake! How about you? 


2) The desire to grow deeper (Philippians 3:13b)

Paul was singularly focused on doing “one thing,” straining toward what was ahead, being the best he could be for Christ’s sake! The secret of progress in our faith journey is to focus on “one thing.” Sometimes we make the mistake of focusing on too many things in life and when we do, it slows us down for the sake of the gospel. I experience so much more joy when I’m fully focused on that “one thing, knowing Christ and making Christ known! Is your desire to grow deeper in that way? 

3) The desire to stretch farther(Philippians 3:14)

This phrase “I press” in the original language communicates the idea of an intense endeavor or an eager pursuit. It is not a passive act. Becoming a winning athlete is not something you sit around just thinking about; it requires going to work, pressing onward, stretching farther than ever before! The truth is, we can always stretch farther than we may think we can, especially with the work of the Holy Spirit in us! (Ref. John 15:5)

4) The desire to live for His honor!  (Philippians 3:15-16)

Paul wanted all the Believers in Philippi, and us, to desire to be more like Christ; to live for His honor. God wants you to mature in your faith. (Ref. 1 Peter 2:2) Some Believers are content to just be on the team, not really racing to win! If you’re not in it to win it, you can change your mindset today. Ask God to give you the same zeal Paul had so that you can live up to what you have already attained!  

For much more, click here to listen to: Joy on the Journey - Part 8 - Racing to Win! 


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