Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.” Hosea 6:3 (NLT)
For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will, you may receive what was promised. Hebrews 10:36 (CSB)
In the great hymn Amazing Grace, John Newton gave us these words: “Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; ’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.” In these words, we find an echo of what Jesus said: I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” John 16:33 (MSG)
For Better or Worse
As followers of Christ, we must be aware of how we respond to the circumstances of life. Many people surrender and give up when confronted with the challenges, heartaches, and disappointments. They take their eye off the goal and focus on the problems. They stop trying. They become discouraged by the trials of life, the apparent lack of spiritual progress, or the condition of the world around them and melt into a pool of discouragement.
An even more precarious situation confronts those who seemingly have been spared from the worst that life has to offer. While no life is perfect or without a measure of pain, it is apparent that life is more difficult for some people, even when following Jesus. The danger of success and prosperity can be just as damaging to our spiritual progress as pain and suffering.
Paul said: I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. Philippians 4:12 (NLT). Does it make any difference if we stop striving for the goal because we suffer or become complacent because we have everything? With little or with much, we must continue to press on.
Live Life with Purpose
In the letter to the Philippians, Paul recounts his heritage and accomplishments. If he were to consider comparing himself to others, Paul might be justified in thinking that he had accomplished everything that was necessary. Still, instead, he considered all of these things fit for the garbage pile. He goes on to say: “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 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 3:12–14 (NLT)
In life, it is virtually impossible to maintain the status quo; either we are growing and moving forward, or retreating, or decaying. In writing to the Corinthians, Paul uses athletics as an illustration: “All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:25–27 (NLT)
What Motivates Us?
In order to maintain a high level of motivation, it is essential to understand that a believer’s primary goal should not be just to avoid hell and go to heaven but to enter into and maintain an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. He is our goal and the One for whom we are pressing on. He is more than eternal life. He is life itself.
He should not be the means by which we can obtain what we desire. Instead, he is for whom we long and hope. “And we know that the Son of God came so we could recognize and understand the truth of God—what a gift!—and we are living in the Truth itself, in God’s Son, Jesus Christ. This Jesus is both True God and Real Life.” 1 John 5:20 (MSG)
From this, we see that Jesus is truth and real life. Each one of us should desire to press on to know Christ. There is no more worthwhile endeavor than to press on to know Christ. We must be like Paul, who, when he checked the balance sheet of his life, evaluated everything and counted everything worthless compared to knowing Christ Jesus as his Lord and Savior.
Our Eyes Fixed on Jesus
Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. Hebrews 12:2 (MSG)
When our goal is Christ, and we have our focus firmly fixed upon him, we will not allow discouragement or distractions to deter us, and until the day we see Jesus face-to-face, our goal will be just beyond our reach. Whether life is easy or it is hard, we must never lose sight of Jesus.
We keep pressing on toward him because He is the only one worth pursuing. It may get complicated, and our cross might be heavy, but we remember the words of Peter in response to Jesus’ question about leaving him: Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. John 6:68 (NLT)