14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Paul’s Christian life was characterized by an unstoppable zeal for Christ. He did not want to be weighed down by his past experiences or distracted by the present issues. This he testified in the preceding verse, “but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before” (v. 13).
Paul was determined to pursue with earnestness and diligence “the mark” he aimed at. He would not yield to any dissuasion or opposition that would come his way. His mind was genuinely and firmly set on the goal. Why was Paul so resolute in his Christian life? Because he was captivated by “the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus”. His foremost desire was “the prize” or the reward which God had called him to attain. He regarded it as “the high calling of God”, far superior and nobler than any earthly goal. It was above all other human agendas and persuasions, for it was God’s appointment for him. As a Christian, it was his highest, greatest, grandest and utmost passion.
The certainty of the mark of the high calling that God has given him is grounded “in Christ Jesus”. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 1:20, “For all the promises of God in him (Christ) are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” The prize that God gives in Christ Jesus to His people is imperishable. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:25, “And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.” So, all his life as a Christian, his heart was fixed on that celestial, eternal prize; he never let anything distract him from it. When he approached the end of his earthly life, he exclaimed with great expectancy, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).
Our eternal inheritance in Christ demands our maximum exertion all through our life for His glory. As Hebrews 12:28 exhorts us, “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”