I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (ESV)
I am not very good at running. I have often said that if you see me running there is likely a bear behind me and you should start running also! I am not sure how good of a runner the Apostle Paul was, but he often used the illustration of running a race to depict the process of our sanctification. This is a race that we must win.
In the previous verse Paul discussed the importance of forgetting what lies behind and pressing on toward what lays ahead. If we are to win a race the direction is forward, not backward. It is the enemy who will bring up all of your past failings. It has been said that when the Devil reminds you of your past you should remind him of his future.
Paul tells us to press on toward the goal. Leave the distractions behind you. We have a goal in mind. Our goal is ultimate perfect righteousness. In this life, we are still running toward that goal. We will not act in perfect righteousness until we are in heaven. Yet, we are not to give up. We are to keep running.
The upward call of God in Christ Jesus is our prize. What does Paul mean by this phrase, "upward call"? It is a description of our final destination; heaven. When we are finally in his presence we will be awarded the Victor's crown. We will realize that every ounce of energy we used in our race was given to us by the Savior himself.
Are you feeling like you will never win the race? Are you entangled in sin? Dwelling on your past failings? Look to Jesus. He is your goal. He is also your strength. Now . . . run!