“Brothers, 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, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14
An athlete trains to compete and to ultimately win first place. They must train, persevere, condition and practice self-control in order to become their best. Their goal is to run in such a way as to get the prize (1 Corinthians 9:24), and it will take extreme dedication and extraordinary discipline.
It is the same for a Christian who is pursuing the life that is growing closer to Jesus. In a world where you can be passionate about everything, but God, this goal is going to take a lot of focus, determination and self-control.
Lent is a season on the Christian calendar when Christians focus on simple living, prayer, fasting, and meditating on Scripture in order to bear fruit, grow in knowledge, and be strengthened. It is a time to repent, return, and refocus our lives to be more like Jesus. In these 40 days, we recognize our mortality, repent of our sins, and recommit to change in our life so that we might be more like Christ. “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness” (Colossians 2:9-10).
In this 40-day season of training, stay focused and pray continually as you long for the things of God that truly satisfy. This exercise is not for the faint of heart. It will require humility, compassion, and tenderness as you look to the interests of others. We will need to turn from vain conceit and selfish ambition, and bitter envy. This attitude describes Christ, “who made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant” (Philippians 1:7). This is counter-cultural behavior and will require intentional choices.
As you participate in Lent, may nothing “compare to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8). May living for Christ be the source and secret of unending joy and peace. “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial…that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12
Prayer: Dear Christian, I pray you will not merely be content to run the race aimlessly or for a season. I pray that you will discipline yourself to win the imperishable crown, the crown of a faithful victor. In Jesus name, Amen.