Brothers, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind…
Like the runner who will lose the prize if he mistake any point short of the goal for the end, or if he waste his time in looking back on the course traversed, the Christian must press forward with his face towards Christ, unresting till the great race is won.
I. WE MUST NOT CONSIDER ANY PRESENT ATTAINMENT SUFFICIENT, St, Paul was no novice when he wrote this Epistle. An old man, rich and ripe in many graces, far and away beyond the experience of most Christians, he still felt that he had not reached the great end of his efforts. How much less can inferior Christians allow themselves to be satisfied with what they have as yet acquired! The end is to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48). We are not blamed if we have not yet reached that crown of goodness. But we are blamed if we are not pressing on to it and rest contented with anything short of it. Height above height rises before us. Let no inferior aim lull us to unfaithful indolence with its soothing prospects.
II. WE MUST LOOK FORWARD, NOT BACKWARD. Some men stand with their faces to the west, regretting the lost radiance of the setting sun. Others turn their gaze on the east, eager to catch the first streak of dawn. Surely the latter are the wiser. Our faces look forwards that we may see the path we are about to tread instead of looking only on the path already trodden.
1. We must forget past attainments. Otherwise they will be a snare, and out of the very fruit of good deeds may be distilled the poisonous narcotic that will prevent the repetition of them. Let the sweet fruit be cast away that the seed may be sown to produce future fruit.
2. We must forget past failures. It is foolish to dwell in idle regrets, for thus we neglect the duty of to-day in lamenting the neglect of yesterday's duty! It is positively wrong to clog our future efforts by carrying the burden of past sin. If God has forgiven our sin we should forget it.
3. We must forget past joys and sorrows - this only in a measure, of course. We are human, and there are wholesome uses of memory. But still the dreamy life of reflection is sadly hindering to progress. Greater joys open before us - even before the saddest, most desponding of us, if we are truly following Christ - than any that lie buried in the graves of the past. They who may hope for the joy of the resurrection reunion do foolishly to weep for ever at the tomb.
III. WE MUST STRETCH FORWARD TO THE THINGS WHICH ARE BEFORE. The picturesque figure represents the eager runner who stretches out his hand and bends his body towards the long-sought end of his endeavors. The eye must precede the foot. If our hearts are not already in heaven our souls cannot be travelling thither. Great effort is also necessary. The Christian must put forth all his energies. His life is a battle, a wrestling, a race.
IV. CHRIST IS THE END OF THE RACE.
1. He is the Goal. We are to strive to attain unto him. The Christian course is marked out by the footprints of. Christ. Every right step brings us nearer Christ, both in resemblance and in fellowship. Perfection is absolute Christ-likeness.
2. Christ is also the Prize. The end of the race is its own reward. And it is enough. To possess Christ is worth the loss of all earthly possessions (ver. 7). It is, however, in the end, to give us the inheritance of all things (1 Corinthians 2:22, 23). - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,