Useful Bible Studies > Philippians Commentary > chapter 3

Life as a race

Philippians 3:13

A runner in a long race has many difficulties to deal with. He cannot allow himself to think about those troubles that he has passed. Instead, he needs to give his complete attention to the next problem. He continues to behave in that manner all the way to the end of that race. Only a runner who completes the race can win the prize.

Many Christians behave very differently from that runner. Their attention is entirely upon their former difficulties, disappointments and troubles. They constantly try to work out how they should have dealt with those old problems. They are not thinking about the opportunities that they have to serve God now, in their present circumstances. So their lives are not full of the faith (trust in God), hope and love that God wants them to show. Their constant memory of the past means that they are not living for God properly now.

Of course Paul could still remember his many past difficulties as he served God (2 Corinthians 11:23-33). However, he chose not to remember those things. Even as a prisoner who might soon die, he still had work to do for God (1:20). His new circumstances gave him a special opportunity to stand for God in a situation of great difficulty (compare Philippians 1:28, also 2:17). Paul knew that he must serve God gladly and willingly, even in this situation.

It is interesting to compare Paul’s description of the race here, with 2 Timothy 4:6-8. Then, near to the end of Paul’s life, he knew that he would die soon. We believe that God had shown Paul this; and he was ready. He then considered himself like a runner who had completed his race. Now, he only waited for God to give him, and all who love him (God), their prize. We shall discuss what that prize is, in our next article.

Next part: What is God's prize for his people? (Philippians 3:14)


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© 2020, Keith Simons.