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Philippians 3:12-4:1, Pressing toward the Goal

Thursday, May 10

Immediate Gratification or Slow and Steady Wins the Race?

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.

slow and steady

Early Christian communities struggled mightily, not only to discern their identities as followers of Christ, but also to remain intact despite the growing resentments and persecutions against their communities. Paul wrote to encourage them to keep pressing onward. The reward will be greater than their current sufferings. 

In our world, where immediate gratification is key, Paul's message can be hard to hear. We don't want to wait for anything -- our coffee, our internet, our pay raises. We want it now. And we find it hard to work for a far-away goal. Who wants to put in 5 years for an internal promotion when they can put in 2 years and get promoted outside the company? But there is something to be said for working hard and being patient, especially when it comes to creating the world God intends for us. It can seem like excruciatingly slow progress to give time and money toward a worthy cause -- money toward cancer research, affordable housing, eliminating teen homelessness -- it may seem as though nothing is changing. But when we look closer, our efforts do have an impact -- if even on just one person at a time. If we hear nothing else from Paul's message today, we can take away this -- keep pressing toward the goal, because our efforts are fruitful.

Narrative Lectionary Text: Philippians 3:12-4:1

Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

Let those of us then who are mature be of the same mind; and if you think differently about anything, this too God will reveal to you. Only let us hold fast to what we have attained.

Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.