"I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
Now at last we discover Paul's goal. What is the goal of his life? His life-long aspiration is the smile of Jesus Christ at their meeting in heaven.
I press toward the goal.
"Press toward" expresses the idea of pursuit after or follow earnestly. Paul keeps his eye on the goal. He does not allow anything to deter him from his goal. Like a marathon runner he keeps his eye on the finish. He follows earnestly after the wreath. He was not going through the paces. He would not stop to talk to the fans in the stands even though the race is over twenty miles. Time is too precious for that.
It is the devil's business to distract us from the goal. If we take time to answer the bystanders, the critics, we lose precious time and focus. If we indulge ourselves with anger, we will not finish well. "But the media told lies about me. Some of the fans made unfair remarks about my running." That thinking will deflect us from our ultimate goal.
We will get the prize when we reach the goal. The goal has not arrived yet. We look for our Savior's words,
"Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things" (Matt. 25:21).
PRINCIPLE: We need to "press" toward the goal.
APPLICATION: Anything less than pressing toward God's goal for our lives will deflect us from finishing well. Have you started the race, have you received a spiritual birth from God? If so, have you left the starting blocks? Have you begun to run the Christian life? Have you ever heard the starter's pistol? Have you responded to our Lord's challenge to live a focused life for his glory? Did you leap off the starting blocks and then slow down? Is your Christian life less robust now than at the beginning? Have you slowed down to a jog? Are you loping along through your Christian life? Some of us may have slowed to a walk. Others may be standing still. Yet others have sat down. Some have even laid down their spiritual life and that is why they are called a "laymen!!"