I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Philippians 3:12
On June 11, 2002, the singing competition American Idol debuted. Each week, hopefuls performed their own versions of popular songs, and the viewing audience voted on who advanced to the next round of the competition.
As one of the panel judges on the show, Randy Jackson’s signature feedback was this zinger: “You made that song your own, dawg!” He lavished that praise when a singer took a familiar tune, learned it inside out, and then performed it in a new way that gave it a unique, personal spin. To “make it their own” was to own it completely and creatively, and then offer it to the world onstage.
Paul invites us to do something similar to own our faith and our expression of it, too. In Philippians 3, he rejects attempts to earn right standing before God (vv. 7–8). Instead, he teaches us to embrace “the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith” (v. 9). The gift of forgiveness and redemption transforms our motivation and goals: “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (v. 12).
Jesus has secured our victory. Our job? To take hold of that truth, internalizing God’s gospel gift and living it out amid our broken world. In other words, we’re to make our faith our own and in so doing “live up to what we have already attained” (v. 16).
What do you think it looks like for you to “press on” in your faith? What most encourages and sustains you to keep moving forward?
Jesus, thank You for Your saving gift of redemption and love on the cross. Help me to respond in gratitude each day, and to press on in my faith with thankfulness.
Tutored by Gamaliel, a leading authority in the Sanhedrin, and “thoroughly trained in the law of [Israel’s] ancestors” (Acts 22:3), Paul was a Pharisee par excellence, whose knowledge of Judaism was unrivaled by his peers (Philippians 3:4–6). Yet after knowing Jesus, Paul considered everything he’d taken pride in as garbage. For the apostle, the life of faith was simply “knowing Christ Jesus” (v. 8). Jesus Himself said that eternal life is to “know . . . the only true God, and Jesus Christ” (John 17:3). That’s why Paul persistently prayed for believers to grow in their knowledge of God and Jesus (Ephesians 1:16–18; Colossians 1:9–10).