Phil. 3:12-16 RUNNING FOR THE PRIZE
Intro: There are two basic statements that every
growing Christian in this room will have to agree with
this evening. Let me share them with you.
1. We have failed in the past. That is, we have fallen
short of God's goal for our lives.
2. We are dissatisfied with our present spiritual
state. That is, we want to become more like our
Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Whether you know it or not, if you get to a place
where you think you have arrived spiritually, you will
cease to grow in the Lord. By the same token, when
you are willing to admit that there are areas where you
need to grow, that is a sign of a maturing Christian.
In these verses, we are given a glimpse into the life
of the Apostle Paul. He lets us in on the secret that
even he, the great Apostle, had areas in his life that
needed work. I don't know about you, but that
encourages me this evening!
I would like for us to take a few minutes tonight and
join Paul on his quest for spiritual maturity as we think
together around the thought, Running For The Prize.
I. V. 12a, 13a PAUL'S EXAMINATION
A. Think of all the reasons that Paul had to stick out
his chest and crow about his Christian life. He
was hand picked to be the Apostle to the
Gentiles. God was using him to record the
inspired words of God. He was a tremendous
soulwinner and preacher of the Word. It seemed
that Paul had all his ducks in a row and was
making the grade for Jesus. Anyone looking at
his life would have concluded that Paul had
arrived. However, Paul knew the truth! He had
not arrived, but was still working towards that
ultimate goal - Perfect Christlikeness!
B. Paul's response to his own life was a mark of
spiritual maturity! (Ill. Beware of those people
who think they have "arrived!" 1 Cor. 10:12; Gal.
6:3. We haven't reached perfection yet, but we
will one day!)
C. Ill. Paul realized that he wasn't perfect, but he
was not content to let that cause him to sit still on
the Lord. Too many people will get discouraged
with the lives they are living and will just quit on
God. Friend, it is not a matter of if you will fail,
but of when! Don't let your failures cause you to
drop out of the race for the Lord Jesus! If you
have fallen, get back up, dust yourself off and
start to run again!
I. Paul's Examination
II. V. 12b, 13b, 14a PAUL'S EXERTION
(Ill. These verses are characterized by action terms.
Paul is using very descriptive language to describe his
Christian race. Note these five great statements made
by the Apostle.)
A. V. 12b I Follow - Literally - "To run swiftly in
order to catch a person, or a thing." It has
reference to a hunter pursuing his prey. It also
has the idea of a runner chasing the finish line.
Whatever the goal, the picture is of pursuit. For
Paul is was the hope of "apprehending"
something. That word means "to lay hold on"
What Paul is saying is, "I am pursuing the goal of
laying hold on all that Jesus laid hold on me for."
He realized that he had been saved for a purpose
and that God had a plan for his life. Paul would
not be satisfied until he had apprehended that for
which he had been apprehended!
(Ill. What are you doing about what God saved
you for? Many of us are just "Stuck on Salvation".
That is, we got saved, but that is as far as we
have gone with the Lord! Friend, He saved you
for a purpose! Get at His feet and find out why
He laid hold on your life. Than pursue that with
all your heart. Let nothing satisfy you but
B. V. 13a This One Thing I do - Paul as a
specialist! Just like an Olympic athlete, Paul
specialized in one thing: reaching the goal.
Notice that he left the past behind him and he
reached for the future. A man excels when he
specializes. If you want to know the secret of
Paul's success, it is that Paul had a one track
mind! Nothing was as important to him as was
pleasing the Lord!
(Ill. One of the problems with the modern
Christian is that not many of us can say, "This
ONE thing I do." Most of us are pulled and
tugged in a thousand different directions. Well,
there is only on thing that will matter when this life
is over and that is how well we ran for the Lord
our God! I would challenge you to develop a one
track mind when it comes to living your life. We
could all use more simplicity in our lives!)
C. V. 13b Forgetting Those Things Which Are Behind - Paul said, "I refuse to look behind me
at my past." The word forgetting means, "To
cease to be affected by." If you run with your
eye on past successes, then you will have the
tendency to lay back and rest on your
accomplishments. If you run with your eye on
your past failures, then you will tend to stay back
for fear of failing again!
(Ill. There is another thought that needs to be
mentioned here. As you are running for the Lord
stop looking at how others are doing in the race!
There will always be those are able to outrun you
and there will be others who will lag behind, or
even drop out of the race. Don't worry about
what others are doing, you duty is to run to please
the Lord Jesus Christ! When we run, He should
be the sole focus of our attention, Heb. 12:1-2.)
D. V. 13c Reaching Forth - This phrase pictures the
runner in a race as he nears the finish line. He
can be seen to lean forward and strain for the
goal. Paul tells us that he is "reaching out with
all he has" to be sure that he wins his race!
(Ill. Can we honestly say that we are straining to
reach the goal? For most believers, the Christian
life is a hit or miss proposition. That is, we just
kind of take it as it comes. If we succeed for the
Lord, then praise His name! If we happen to
stumble and fall, it's "Oh well, I'll try and do
better tomorrow!" Not Paul! He wasn't content
to sit around and wait for life to happen. No, he
was busy making it happen! He was out there
reaching for all he could be come for Jesus. He
was trying to reach his fullest potential for the
glory of God. What a lesson for the children of
God this evening!)
E. V. 14a I Press Toward The Mark - The word
Mark refers to the "goal that one has in view." In
other words, Paul was oblivious to his
surroundings, he was just heading for the goal.
He wanted to finish well. Notice that when he did
reach the end of his life, he was able to leave
behind the testimony that he had indeed run well.
"For I am now ready to be offered, and the
time of my departure is at hand. I have fought
a good fight, I have finished my course, I have
kept the faith:" 2 Tim 4:6-7.)
(Ill. My friends, there is a great need for us to
avoid the trap of becoming distracted by the
events of this life. There is a mark, there is a goal
and we should be striving for that goal in our
lives! God help us to keep our eyes on the goal.
Too many come out of the blocks primed and
pumped to run the race, but after a few short
months or years, they have become distracted
and fallen out of the race. I like those people who
are steady! They are not living for the moment,
but they run with eternity in view at all times.
They realize that God is honored by a race well
run and a life well lived. They are not easily
distracted, but they run with their eyes on the
I. Paul's Examination
II. Paul's Exertion
III. V. 14b PAUL'S EXPECTATION
A. Paul tells us in this verse that he is running for the
"prize". This is the award presented to the victor
in the race. Paul wanted to run a good race and
he wanted t win the prize that God had for him!
(Ill. Paul knew that the Lord called him for a
reason. He called him to carry out his duty before
he Lord. He also knew that successful
completion of this goal would allow him to enjoy
the rewards of the Lord. By the way, things are
still the same! Jesus saved you to do a job for
Him and for His kingdom! When we do what the
Lord wants and we live our lives in pursuit of the
prize, then we too will receive the rewards that
come along with faithful service to the Lord, 1
Cor. 3:8; Matt. 25:21.)
(Ill. Paul got what he was after, "Henceforth
there is laid up for me a crown of
righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous
judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me
only, but unto all them also that love his
appearing.", 2 Tim. 4:8. Will we? Yes, but only
if we run for the prize!)
(Ill. Notice that Paul refers to the prize as a "high
calling". I want you to know that God did not
save us so that we could continue to live like the
world! He saved us that we might follow after
Him and strive to be like Him in every detail of life.
Don't cheapen your salvation by running after the
flesh, the world or the devil! Treat your
relationship with the Lord like the precious thing
it is, by striving to live up to a "high calling.")
I. Paul's Examination
II. Paul's Exertion
III. Paul's Expectation
IV. V. 15-16 PAUL'S EXHORTATION
A. In these verses Paul is simply telling is that this is
the mature Christian attitude! Does this match
your attitude of what the Christian life is supposed
B. He then warns us that if we have a different
opinion about how the Christian race should be
run, then the Lord will deal with us in that matter.
The only problem with that is that too many
people are enjoying the race they are running and
wouldn't listen if the Lord did call them to run
Conc: If we are to succeed in the Christian life and
honor God by the lives we live, then we are going to
have to run the race His way. We will have to run with
our eyes upon Him. We will have to learn to turn a blind
eye to the allurements of the world and a deaf ear to the
siren song of compromise. If we will attain the prize of
Christlikeness, then we will have to pay the price of
dedication and struggle. It will be a hard fought victory,
but in the end, when we see His face, it will be worth it
How well are you running this evening? Are you
eyes on Jesus alone? There is a song we sing from
time to time that ha a part that goes like this, "Turn your
eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and
the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of
His glory and grace." How true! Getting your focus
solely on Jesus will give you the direction you need to
successfully run the race for His glory and your eternal
benefit as you run for the prize!