13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it,[a] but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
Philippians 3:13-14 NLT
True joy is found in our relationship with Christ.
The scriptures above have provided a great deal of encouragement to me in recent weeks. Despite my close personal relationship with God, it has been challenging to remain joyful while learning the details of the betrayal and infidelity in my marriage. However, reading this letter written by the apostle Paul during imprisonment, gave me a more optimistic perspective on my current situation.
Joy is the dominant theme in Paul’s letter. The secret of his joy is grounded in his relationship with Christ. All of us want to be happy however, when we look to other people, things or circumstances to make us happy we set ourselves up for failure. We live in a fallen world where success is measured by how many “followers” we have, how we look and how many things or how much money we have. No wonder it is so easy to get discouraged, to lose sight of our true purpose on this earth as children of God!
As believers, we can have peace and contentment in life regardless of our circumstances. This joy comes from knowing Christ and from depending on HIS strength rather than our own. Unlike happiness, joy runs deeper into our souls – it is much more powerful. Joy is a confident assurance of God’s great love for us. It is the knowledge, trust and BELIEF that He is ALWAYS with us and will NEVER leave us. Even though we may not always “see”, “hear” or “feel” Him, we have zero doubt that He is at work in our lives. We KNOW that He works ALL THINGS for the good of those who love Him.
Where happiness is dependent upon happenings our joy depends solely on Jesus Christ
That means believers can have joy, even in hardship because it doesn’t come from outward circumstances but from Christ within us.
I love how Paul uses winning a race as a metaphor for Christian living. With the single-mindedness of an athlete in training, we must focus all our energy toward winning the race. This serves as a reminder to me that nothing should ever distract me from my goal to not only know Christ personally but to also trust Him with my life.
The Message version of the bible provides my favorite translation of these two scriptures. The author’s choice of words not only convey an absolute confidence in Christ but something even more exciting. An almost giddy sense of anticipation for the glorious things to come in the future. That my friend, is a beautiful truth that I cling to in times of trial…True joy is so much more that what we will ever see or experience with respect to worldly living!
Philippians 3:13-14 The Message (MSG)
Focused on the Goal
12-14 I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.
Sending peace, love & happiness to all!