Devotional 3: Setting Goals as a Believer in Christ
10 My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead.12 Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brothers, I do not[a] consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, 14 I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly[b] call in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:10-14 HCSB).
How many of us realize that the apostle Paul had a goal? Often times, when we read about Paul’s missions, we understand he was obedient by following God’s Word and suffered greatly for it; but have we thoughtfully considered that after Paul prayed, he planned, plotted and placed into action steps and strategies towards a goal? We often imagine Paul composing his letters while in prison for example, but one is left only to wonder how such a giant man of faith sat and strategized his efforts (or perhaps he stood or paced?). Paul wasn’t a man of reckless ambition; but a man of faith first, then action; when he finished his work in one city, he promptly set forth on foot to the next, overcoming many obstacles and angry crowds.
Although Paul had various smaller goals, his uttermost goal on this earth was to “know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings”. What does that mean?
Simply put, Paul’s ultimate goal was to gain a deep, intimate and experiential relationship with Christ through the power of His resurrection and as victor over sin. When Paul shared in sufferings for Christ, it assured him of mutual love and eternal life; and that is how Paul could say he had joy in sufferings. Remember Paul was a devout Jew, he knew the Scriptures and had a solid prayer life; no doubt he was able to deepen his relationship with Christ through those practices.
The more we practice those spiritual disciplines, the closer and more intimate we grow with Christ.
There once was an analogy spoken by a great theologian using vantage point views as distinguishing levels of intimacy with our Lord. At 500 feet up the mountain, one could see the valley below and in front; at 1000 feet, one could see a bit of the sides of the mountain as well as the valley below and in front; and at 2000 feet, one could see much more around the mountain, and a vastly greater view of the valley below and in front. The more we grow closer to God, the more we are able to relate to Him and see the importance of His plan for mans redemption; making our circumstances seem very small in comparison. So when Paul suffered for the Gospel, he counted it all joy because he was at 2000 feet and able to see the kingdom purpose much more so than those of us who are not at the 2000-foot level. However, there is a trick that our flesh plays on us on that mountain; whatever level we are currently on, we can be tempted to think “Where I’m at is good”, and instead of being intentional with goals and growing, we can become complacent leading to boredom and backsliding.
What level on the mountain are you at? Have you experienced backsliding in your spiritual journey? What level or goals do you want to reach to by the end of this year? What is one attainable task you can immediately incorporate into your day to grow closer to God?
Like Paul, we should remember that we must first believe in the resurrection and Trinitarian deity of Christ and place our faith in Him so that His Spirit can minister to our hearts, helping us to grow more into His likeness and less on our worldly way of life. By staying focused on the things of God and by moving forward towards our goals for His glory, we too, like Paul, can pursue as our goal the prize promised by “God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus” and enjoy Him forever in eternity.