[The following is a guest post by Ani Ma'amin. Ani is a blogger for Calvary Chapel South Bay's WISE Blog.]
“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 3:14
The Meaning of Perseverance for a Christian
When people read this scripture, they naturally interpret press on as to move ahead with earnest, and they would be correct. But press on also means to progress, and to grow as an individual in Christ Jesus. Yes, we press on, and, in the process, we progress in our walk with the Lord and we grow as Christians.
It’s the five P’s of Philippians: Press (on), Progress, Patience, Persevere, and (the) Prize.
Do you have the patience to persevere? To press on? To progress? To grow? To go after that prize for which God has called you heavenward in Christ Jesus?
There was a time I didn’t. I had the endurance of a dead horse. It’s easy to exhort others when you’re laying on the sofa. Getting in the Word or the trenches is another story. I thought a lot about accomplishing goals that never got off the drawing board. I finally got it … there’s an ocean of separation between thinking and doing.
My mother, bless her heart, would scold me, saying, “Ani, you will never amount to anything, because all you do is procrastinate.”
And I would always reply, “Just wait.”
This race is a marathon, it is not a sprint. Press on daily and you will grow daily.
A Baseball Players Story
Let me give you a personal example of perseverance because it’s a good exhortation for pressing on with earnest. It’s the story of a high school kid who played on a baseball travel team with my son for several years in Southern California.
He was the shortest guy on the ball club, but he had the biggest heart, the most talent, and the most positive attitude. He never showed up and said, “I don’t feel like growing as a baseball player today.”
He could hit, play defense, and even pitch. He was solid. And every game he learned from his mistakes and grew as a player. But no matter how good he was, he just didn’t fit the “big and fast” mold that Major League scouts look for. Even the NCAA stats were against him. No matter what his size:
Only one in 200, or roughly 0.5 percent of high school senior boys playing interscholastic baseball will ever get drafted by an MLB team.
That’s a daunting statistic. But it didn’t daunt him. It didn’t deter him from “pressing on” toward his goal. Because of his small stature, he worked harder, never giving up on his dream to one day play on a Major League Baseball team. In college, he set various hitting records and excelled with his glove at shortstop. It was hard to overlook his determination on the field and perseverance in life. Scouts were forced to take notice of “the little guy who could do everything.”
Finally, he got the call. He had been drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals. Today he is in their farm system “pressing on” toward his goal of playing on that big league team. Our young friend never gave up. His eyes were fixed on a goal, with an unwavering determination.
Perseverance and You
As Christians, can we say the same? What is your goal? What does the Apostle Paul mean when he exhorts us to “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me…”
To me it means doing the will of God in our daily lives, not allowing the devil to beat us down with obstacles and distractions that take our eyes off Jesus. Our prize awaits us in heaven. Who among us wouldn’t want to hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant”?:
“His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” -Matthew 25:21
Are we running this daily race to win the prize, or to be mediocre, settling for being less than what God wants us to be?
That is what the Apostle Paul is warning us about. Press on! Go after God with an earnest heart. Grow in the Lord as you do His will. Run the race for His Glory. Run the race to win the prize of a “job well done.” Don’t settle for a mediocre Christian life.
Paul had a goal. He pressed on doing the will of Jesus, spreading the Good News, and he wasn’t going to let any obstacles get in his way. Not mobs, not trials, not prison, not shipwrecks, not plots against his life, not even getting bit by a viper. His eyes were fixed on the prize. His eyes were on doing the will of God. We have up days and down days, on-fire days and blah days. But what God started in us He will finish, so take heart.
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” -Philippians 1:6
You don’t have to tell me some days are tougher than others. It’s not easy to pick up your cross and follow, as Jesus said. Stay steadfast like Paul to reach your reward.
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” -James 1:12
You can do it! It’s a race you have been called to run.
There are no 2nd Place awards for running the race halfhearted and almost finishing.
There are no 3rd Place trophies for sort of trying and giving up when the going got tough.
There is only 1st Place, and those who finish will be in the winner’s circle, with Jesus.
Run the race for His Glory. Your prize awaits you.
[Image via greenshock - Creative Commons]
If you’re interested, you can hear a podcast on The Five Ps of Philippians by Louie Cruzado of Calvary Chapel, Aurora, Colorado.