I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.
Is persistence always the right response to your goals? Let’s be clear: we are talking about persisting only in those goals that come from God. There is a strain of positive thinking that comes up with platitudes like, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve.” That makes for a nice wall plaque, but think about it: Adolf Hitler could have had that philosophy in life. After all, he had a goal and he certainly persisted in it. But it was the wrong goal. When we talk about persistence, we are talking about persisting in your God-given goals.
In Philippians 3:12, the apostle Paul said, “I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.” That is key. God had chosen Paul to be a light to the Gentiles. Paul had a responsibility in that as well. He had to grab hold of what God had grabbed hold of him for. We’re talking about pursuing not just any goal but your God-given goals in life.
You may be wondering, “How do I know if my goal is really from God or not?” Let me give you three questions you ought to ask about any goal that you are pursing.
First, does your goal violate any principle of God’s Word? For example, you may have the goal to be the most successful drug dealer in America. But that obviously is not a God-given goal. You say, “Well, that example is kind of silly.” Here is another example: Some Christians have a goal: “I’m going to find a mate who will satisfy my every need.” The only problem is they are already married. But their goal is to find somebody else. That is not a God-given goal.
Second, is your goal in keeping with God’s purpose for your life? There may be something you are interested in doing and achieving–it may not be sinful, but it may not be in keeping with God’s unique purpose for your life. I remember more than thirty years ago, when I was starting in the pastorate, I had some extra time on my hands, so I started getting involved in a side vocation. It wasn’t anything sinful, but it was something I was interested in and was gifted to do, and after a while I started to enjoy some success in doing it. I said, “Man, this is pretty neat. I think I’m going to keep doing this.” But I’ll never forget that moment of clarity when I realized I had to make a choice: either continue in the ministry or continue doing that, but I couldn’t do both. And God made it very clear to me that my side business was not His purpose for my life. So the question is: Does your goal in any way conflict with God’s unique purpose for your life?
Third, how will the achievement of your goal bring honor to God? If there’s something you are pursuing, you ought to be able to answer clearly, “How will the achievement of this goal bring honor to the Lord?” In 1 Corinthians 10:31, Paul said, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Choosing Perseverance over Defeat” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2019.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.