Do you have goals for 2017, and did you reach your goals for 2016? Today we consider pressing on to take hold of the goal for which Jesus took hold of you. Ask the Lord today, God, why are you taking hold of my life? The answer will set our direction for 2017…
4 If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.
7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
Thinking about the new year ahead of us, we often consider resolutions to make changes in our lives. We desire to become better versions of ourselves and the prospect of the turning of a calendar and turning over a new leaf at the same time resonates with us. What are you considering? What changes might you make in your life into 2017? This is the season of goal-setting.
Do you have goals for 2017, and did you reach your goals for 2016?
Today I am examining Paul’s approach to reflection on his own life and determining how to make positive change. The first thing I see Paul do is reflect on his own life and the confidence he could have in the flesh… in other words, Paul reviews for us all the reasons he should be envied in Israel: his stature among his people was tall and strong.
What can you be proud about over the last year? Did you accomplish some amazing things? Are you esteemed in your field of work or study? Are you ahead of your time? Well, before you get too excited about your accomplishments and reputation, notice what Paul says next.
Paul considers his gains to be loss for the sake of Christ. This doesn’t erase your achievements in 2016, yet it certainly does place them in context. What context? The context of Jesus: knowing him, being found in him, and identifying with him in suffering, death, and resurrection.
Paul places everything of value and esteem in his life in submission to his relationship with Christ. In fact, he considers them loss compared to the surpassing worth and value of his stature in Jesus. And in Jesus, our stature is not our own. Our righteousness before God is through faith in Christ. And so we see that the most valuable thing – more valuable than all of our accomplishments, achievements, or accolades, is obtained completely through the agency of faith and not of ourselves.
Are you willing to reconsider your life in light of Jesus and within the context of faith?
Paul completes these thoughts with the confession that he has not achieved his goal. He isn’t there yet. Hmmm… me neither. So what are we going to do about that? The answer is to press on. Press on in 2017, not to meet personal goals of achievement. Rather, consider the value of pressing on to take hold of the goal for which Jesus took hold of you.
Spend some time asking God, why are you taking hold of my life? You will find the answer will lead you to pursue God’s will for you in 2017.
Happy New Year