Forget the past: Press toward the mark

Philippians 3--12-14

Although the Verse of the Day is taken from Philippians 3:14, to fully understand that particular verse, we need to take a look at the preceding verse as well:

Philippians 3:13-14

13 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,

14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Our understanding is illuminated as we examine some of the athletic imagery in the passage. Immediately my thoughts turn toward my high school track days when I ran anchor on the mile relay. Once the baton hit my hand, I grabbed it and focused on completing the race. If the other three members of the team had given me a lead, my task was to maintain it or if we were behind when I got the baton, I had to make up the distant and then pull ahead before crossing the finish line. To press toward the mark is to focus intently, to “scope in on” as one does with a telescope which blocks everything out except that which you are looking at.

I recall that I had to be “single-minded,” focusing all of my energy and efforts on finishing my race. I did not look to the right nor to the left, certainly I did not want to look behind, but I pressed toward the mark, striving to cross the finish line. I recognized that I had to cross the finish line before I could receive the prize.

Philippians 3:13-14 is used as the introduction to a poem that expresses where we as believers find ourselves as we finish the race that is set before us:

In the Home-stretch

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,

I press toward the mark for the prize

Of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:13-14

We rest in the home-stretch, as we press toward the mark,

Secure in the Savior, as all things become new.

Constantly seeking, we know we shall someday find

Our heart’s desire fulfilled, for God’s Word is still true,

Even as these perilous times have never been more dark.

Though at times we faint and grow weary in our mind,

We rest in the home-stretch, as we press toward the mark.

Each day we grow in grace, empowered by the Word.

We fix our heart and set our affections above.

Like David, we encourage ourselves in the Lord.

Nothing can separate us from His boundless love.

We rest in hope, assured that all those who endure

Shall lay hold of the prize that they have sought to win.

We purify our hearts, as the Lord himself is pure.

Strengthened by the presence of Christ who dwells within,

We rest in the home-stretch, as we press toward the mark,

We live to give, and we love to serve above all:

Waiting for the Lord, we still say “Yes” to our call.

We rest in the home-stretch, as we press toward the mark.

The song “Press Toward the Mark” by The Wild’s Music has lyrics based on Philippians 3:13-14

As I recall my track and field experiences, many times the outcome of the entire track meet was known beforehand, based on the accumulation of points from all the previous track and field events, with the last two races being relays. Drawing a spiritual parallel with the spiritual athletic arena that we find ourselves in today, the believers’ team is so far ahead that we cannot lose; however, the challenge is for each individual believer to finish the race, having achieved his or her P.B. (personal best).

In a similar way, believers are encouraged in their individual races to

Cast aside every weight and the sin that so easily besets;

Forget the past, press toward the mark;

Look straight ahead with no regrets.

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