‘I press on’

Published 9:00 am Sunday, April 28, 2024

Our dear, departed St. Paul gives us some powerful words to live by in all of his epistles; none more so than the third chapter of his letter to the Philippians. 

He begins the chapter with a resume of his life before he met Jesus on the road to Damascus; describing in some detail his zeal for the law, as evidenced by the persecution of those who followed Jesus. Next, he declares all of his accomplishments to be rubbish. Paul now seeks to know Jesus at all cost, longing for a deeper relationship with Him. Verses 12-14 encourage us to be intentional in our quest for the Truth, and a relationship based on faith in His righteous-ness, not our own.

“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have ap-prehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward to the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” — Philippians 3:12-14 (NKJV)

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“I press on!” said the great apostle. “I press on,” said the Holy Spirit-filled man of God. I press on, I press on, that I might know Him, that I might, somehow, reach the final goal of eternal life with Him.

In those few words, Paul said to all who would read and comprehend, that we should never quit. Not because we feel that we have reached our goal; not because we think ourselves not capable, or worthy. Paul said “I press on.” I press on in spite of my unworthiness, in spite of the difficulty of the Christian walk. I press on because I am not there yet, I have not done all that I can to reach the prize. Paul said, I am pressing on, pressing forward, pressing toward, straining (spiritually) to reach, and hear God call me home.

As I read this passage, I am reminded that this same Paul, who is so aware of his shortcom-ings, is the same Paul who wrote a third of the New Testament! He is not called the Great Apostle for nothing. His missionary journeys spread the Gospel across much of the world around him. And yet, Paul said, “I press on.” Are we?

The Rev. Bobby Thornhill is a retired pastor.