Posts Tagged ‘Rabbi Sha'ul’

Brothers, I, for my part, do not think of myself as having yet gotten hold of it; but one thing I do: forgetting what is behind me and straining forward toward what lies ahead, I keep pursuing the goal in order to win the prize offered by God’s upward calling in the Messiah Yeshua. Philippians 3:13-14 CJB

I love that he calls them brothers. Despite having just finished giving his credentials in Judaism to them, he reflects his renewed priorities in Messiah Yeshua. He doesn’t think of them as talmadim (disciples) as a Rabbi would, but rather he calls them (us) brothers–suggesting an equality unheard of in his culture and religious system prior to his meeting Yeshua the Messiah on the road to Damascus.

He gives us three things in this short passage that are worthy of comment and meditation:

Forgetting what is behind me
In making this statement, Paul is telling us that his past is no longer going to be in the center of his thoughts and focus. This is important to think on for a moment. Our past grows in size and importance often as we age. It can loom as a great disappointment–failed relationships, failure in career, failure in faith and pleasing God. It can also loom large a great point of success as it did with Paul. He lists in Philippians 3:5-6, his claims to religious fame–these are things of considerable importance in Jewish culture. We may also have great accomplishments in career, academia or even in religious circles. What Paul is saying is to work on forgetting those things, both good and bad, and move forward with God. It is true that our past forms us, it carves us and imprints on us–but Paul is letting us know that it is not the end of the story in our relationship with God. He is telling us to work to forget what came before and who we were before we met the Messiah and live with God in the now by the power of the Spirit. (Galatians 2:20)

Straining forward toward what lies ahead
The verb “straining” is a strong action verb. It suggests intentionality and going beyond oneself, going beyond one’s current location. We are not to be pew-sitters or Youtube watchers only, we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling–get out of our chairs, get out of our houses, get out of our normal routine, seek the kingdom of God. To strain for what lies ahead means to be longing for God’s coming kingdom as well as for opportunities to share the love God, the beauty of His majesty, the comfort of His close presence. Straining implies I am making an effort to see God’s kingdom come. Life with Adonai is not a spectator sport.

Keep pursuing the goal in order to win the prize
To keep pursuing requires steadfastness, determination and diligence. We must decide to follow Yeshua as the example of righteous living. We must continue steadfastly and with determination in Adonai’s commands, and we must use diligence to follow the dictates of Torah–the instructions for righteous living.

What is the goal? The goal is to live righteous lives as true witnesses of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob–Adonai. The goal is to keep Torah by the power of the Holy Spirit. We must be the witnesses that God’s word is true and that His ways are pure and holy. This life of righteousness will impact the world around us–it will show us to be different. It will cause us to stand out, which is exactly what it was intended to do. “Be holy as I am holy,” says the Lord God Almighty.

What is the prize? Eternal life with God. To rule and reign with Yeshua. To be forever in the presence of Adonai–never separated from Him. Eternally His.


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