VI. Pressing on to the Goal 3:12-4:1
A. One thing I do 12-14
B. A Mature viewpoint 15-16
C. True and false models 3:17-4:1
Points of Interest
Background: Through this letter, Paul has been using several examples to point us toward the goal of advancing the cause of Christ in all circumstances. In doing so, he has used his own life’s circumstances as examples, as well as the circumstances and dedication of others, and most particularly that of Christ Himself. In this section he, once again, uses his own circumstances as a model to encourage his readers to continue on to Christlikeness.
vv. 12-14: Paul begins here by admitting that even he is not yet “perfect”. He uses the image of running a race to illustrate this point, and indicates that he still continues to run toward the finish line. It is a fascinating point to ponder; that even the Apostle Paul was continuing to press on. To fully comprehend this, we must recall the fact that we have been Commissioned by Christ to spread the Gospel, and to make disciples: this is our purpose for living on this earth. If all of the disciples were already made, there would be no point for this Age to continue! Therefore, all of us must continue to “press on”. The question is: What does this entail? Pressing on refers to our obligation as Christ’s servants to do everything we can do to become disciples, to reach the lost, and to bring them to discipleship all through our lives. A Christian never “retires” from his or her servant hood for Christ; we are only “called home” when our time comes. Are you doing your part…?
vv. 17-20: Paul moves on to exhort his readers to follow his example in the way in which they live their lives. This continues the theme of the letter, that we must place our priorities and talents and efforts into doing God’s work. Then he moves on to mention certain individuals who are “enemies of the cross”. It is the subject of conjecture to identify these people, but the most likely guess would seem to be that he is referring to erstwhile Christians, some we would assume to be “friends” who have turned themselves over to be “enemies”. Based upon the verses that follow, these could well be Christians who have not allowed their lives to be changed since their conversion; people who live not for Christ, but for themselves and their own individual priorities, and not for God’s. They could be people who also foster doctrinal error. Either way, their fate will not be a good one, unless they turn things around, and start running the race. Take heed!
3:19-4:1: Paul mentions that those of whom he spoke above are concerned with themselves, this world and indulging. Then he points out that we are to be citizens of Heaven, not citizens of this world and its pleasures. If our life’s focus is on earthly things, we are headed for ruin. We are citizens of Heaven, and we are eagerly awaiting Christ’s return, and our reward will be coming with Him! Therefore, stand firm in your faith, and press on with the work at hand: fulfilling the Great Commission that our Lord has given us!