I spent a lot of time substitute teaching in a classroom for children with behavioral issues. At the end of each day, I would ask each child by name, one at a time, "Do you know your goal?" Each goal was written on the board for all to see and also in each student's personal notebook. They would recite their single goal for the week. Classmates would share observations, and the child would share, too. Often, progress and setbacks were connected to little stresses of the day from circumstances or other students, building up to challenge that single goal. Finally, there was a vote for how well they met that one goal that day. A positive vote meant greater freedom, while a negative vote meant less pleasure. A child could struggle in multiple areas, but if they conquered that single goal, joy was their reward, so they focused on that one thing.
There's a lot of "stuff" in life: Relationships, Work, Health, Possessions, Needs. A lot of "stuff." Paul writes about "straining" toward the one thing that matters most. He starts by admitting, "Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own," Phil. 3:12.
He's referring to what he described in verses 7-11. Knowing Jesus. When we know Him, we become like Him/righteous, and we have His power to deal with our sufferings. Paul admits in vs.13 that he hasn't already achieved "his goal" for that day, but he says, "one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (vv.13&14). He encourages us to push away thoughts of past failures and, instead, to strain toward our goal. That word "straining" means to stretch ourselves forward. When we find ourselves stuck in discouragement, it takes effort to "reach" in a forward direction, but we need to keep moving toward the goal, even in small steps.
Paul invites us to join him in imitating him in his one goal and follow the example of others who "know their goal" (v. 17). Look back at verse 12 for the reason why we MUST keep reaching forward and not stay covered up in our rock heap: "because Jesus Christ has made me his own."
DO YOU KNOW YOUR GOAL?
Action step today for fighting discouragement: Write down this goal in two places. 1) Write it "on the board" (a card, a mirror, a chalkboard, etc) in public view; we need the accountability & the visual reminder. It also gives us freedom to let things go that don't fit the goal. 2) And write it in a personal place for yourself (prayer notebook, Bible, planner, etc).
Today you have ONE THING to focus on: Knowing Jesus. Yes, circumstances and people will rub us the wrong way and feel like rocks battering us, but let's keep our eyes on the ONE THING we need to do. Whether you spend this day at a computer, in a classroom, in a conference room, in a kitchen, or in a hospital room, we share one goal. "Because Jesus Christ has made