Setting the Right Goal in Life

Setting the Right Goal
Phil 3:12-16
“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
 Look on the internet for famous quotes regarding goals, and you will find a plethora of statements, each extolling the value and importance of setting goals that drive us to act and sacrifice to attain them. Some goals we set, we obtain.  I set a goal of obtaining my Doctorate by the time I was 40.  I achieved this goal in 2000 when I earned my Doctor of Ministry degree (at age 41).  Other goals we make are changed as we go forward. When I started ministry, I had the goal of becoming a Bible College/Seminary professor teaching biblical languages.  Yet God had other plans, and as he moved me into rural ministry.  My goal changed from teaching languages to encouraging and strengthening rural churches and pastors.  Other achievements we never set as a goal.  I never set a goal to write books, nor did I think of myself as a writer, yet God has led me to write six books and be the editor of a seventh. I never set writing as a goal, but it just happened.  The most critical aspect of goals is not the establishment of goals (we all set goals) but making sure we have the right goals.  A wasted life is not one that was lived without any goals or accomplishments.  A wasted life is spent in the pursuit of the wrong goals and accomplishing greatness in the wrong things. This brings us to the all-important question:  What is the right goal?

 Paul gives us the answer in Philippians 3:12-16.  Having achieved success that would have been impressive in his day, Paul experienced a complete reorientation of his goals and purpose in life.  While many people would have been impressed by his accomplishments, Paul reminded us that those things were ultimately worthless, amounting to nothing more than rubbish.  When Paul encountered Christ on the road to Damascus, it not only transformed his relationship with God but also completely reoriented his life purpose and goals.  His life purpose was now to share the gospel with the Gentiles (Acts 9:15; Romans 11:13; Eph 3:8; Gal 2:2).  Yet, even as he focused his ministry on reaching the Gentiles, this was not his driving goal. In Philippians 3:12-16, Paul reveals his ultimate goal in life. His life goal was to be fully transformed into the image and person of Christ.  His ultimate goal was to know Christ and be found in Him.  It was to apprehend Christ fully and for Christ to apprehend him. He desired to fully possess the character of Christ and reflect his image. This brings us to the mystery of our salvation.  Salvation is not just about the forgiveness of sins and the deliverance from hell.  It is about having Christ revealed in us so that our sinful nature, with its pursuit of sin and self, is replaced by Christ's character and righteousness and the pursuit of Him.  It is to be seized by Christ so that every pursuit and desire is Christ-oriented, motivated, and governed.  Our goal in life is no longer career achievements or recognition by others; our goal is now a person.  We are saved from sin to a relationship with the person of Christ so that we are transformed to be like Him.

 However, even as Paul affirms that this is his goal, he acknowledges that he has yet to attain it fully.  He still struggles with sin, still struggles to be like Christ.  This is equally true of us.  The more we make Christ our pursuit, the greater our realization that we fall infinitely short. We still struggle with our failures. However, this failure does not lead to despair and discouragement. Instead, it reminds us of our need for Christ and to set Him daily as the focal point.  Genuine spirituality is not becoming more perfect; it is becoming more aware of how imperfect we are so that we rest in God's grace and obey Him in all things.  Pursuing Christ leads us to the recognition that we daily need to surrender to Christ, for spiritual growth does not come from our abilities or acts of righteousness but by relinquishing our life to Him so that we do His will.  This is the only goal genuinely worthy of pursuing.

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