"I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:14).

We often engage in sports, competitions, and contests among each other in order to earn a prize for our earthly endeavors. Recently the children and teens of our church engaged in competitions over church ministry, Bible content, presentations, and activities. In contemplating the purposes of these competitions, and seeking to help our youth understand them, the Lord spoke to me about our endeavors as Christians.

Why do we seek the prize? What is our motivation for "winning" the Christian walk? We tell the youth that it is not about the trophy, medal, or plaque. We tell them that how we achieve these accolades is more important than the physical trophy. We understand that, when competing against others, only one can be the winner and that each person is unique in abilities and effort. It is about giving every contest your best individual effort and doing it for the right reasons, regardless of the reward.

Should we not apply this to our Christian perspective of pressing "... toward the mark ..."? In heaven, will any crown we earn compare to the greatness of God? Revelation 4:10-11 indicates that they will not! "The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created."

As we press toward the mark, it is how and why we run that makes the difference. Will we run with patience while setting aside our sin? "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us," (Hebrews 12:1). Will we run because we enjoy glorifying God and love Him? Or do we run because we are trying to "keep up" with the person beside us? Do we run because we want accolades for our service?

It is not the crown itself that makes the race worthwhile, but rather the joy and privilege of pleasing our great God.

alanier Written by Aaron Lanier
March 14, 2018