Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect.
I have no doubt as to what God has called me to do with my life. He has called me to preach the Gospel and to help establish the Church in regions of the world that are unstable, difficult, and unchurched. That is my calling, and I am very confident of this fact. But for me to fulfill this divine call on my life requires hard work, attention, and a determination to never stop until I have achieved exactly what Jesus intended for me to achieve with my life.
When you look at the life of the apostle Paul, you’ll find it very evident that he emphatically knew his calling. Furthermore, he was able to concretely express it and often wrote of it in his epistles. Over and over again, he wrote that he was an apostle to the Gentiles (Galatians 2:8). Paul lived, breathed, ate, and slept and awoke every day to the call of God that was on his life.
When Paul was in a Roman prison with the prospect of death staring him in the face, he never gave up because he knew he hadn’t yet fulfilled the entire plan God had revealed to him. I personally believe that reaching his God-given goal was in Paul’s mind when he wrote, “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect.” (Philippians 3:12).
The word “perfect” is the Greek word teleo. It refers to something that is ripe, mature, perfect, or complete. It suggests that Paul meant, “I have done a lot and accomplished much in comparison to others, but I haven’t yet brought my assignment to completion. The job is not finished. I have not yet completed what God has called me to do.”
During his multiple years of serving the Lord, Paul had achieved more than any other Christian leader of his time. He had preached on different continents, traveled to the countries of the Mediterranean Sea, and preached to governors and kings. Besides all these notable accomplishments, Paul had written the majority of the New Testament text! But none of this mattered to him because he knew he hadn’t yet “attained” that for which Jesus Christ had apprehended him.
Instead of relaxing and taking it easy at the end of his life, Paul therefore turned his attention to the dream – to the unfulfilled vision or assignment that was still before him. Because there was still so much left to do, he went on to say, “I follow after.” This phrase comes from the Greek word dioko, which is the word that is usually translated to persecute. Let’s stop and talk about this for a moment so we can understand the full force of what Paul was writing in this verse.
The word dioko, translated as “I follow after,” is a fiercely aggressive word. In historic Greek literature, it means to hunt; to pursue; to chase; to track down and kill. It is the picture of an outdoorsman who is so determined to hunt down an animal that he will stop at nothing to pursue, chase, track down, and ultimately get his game!
Do hunters accidentally bag their game, or do they strategize in their plans to get a good one each hunting season? Hunters strategize! They dream! They talk to other hunters about the best places to hunt! They dress in camouflaged clothes; then they perch themselves high up on tree branches and wait for hours upon hours for an unlucky deer to walk into their trap. Once the deer comes in range, they shoot to kill! They hunt, hound, and stalk that animal until they finally kill it. Then they throw the big catch in the back of their truck and head home with their trophy – and the prospect of many good venison meals in their future! That is exactly what Paul means when he says, “I follow after.”
The apostle Paul strategized, planned, studied, and ardently followed after the call of God on his life. You could say that he hunted, hounded, and stalked the call of God with all his heart, never stopping until he could say, “I got my game!” When Paul’s job was finished, he gladly said, “I have finished my course.” (2 Timothy 4:7). That’s when he packed it all up and went home to Heaven with his trophy – a crown of reward.
For you to achieve what God has planned for your life, it will likewise require a fierce determination to keep pressing ahead. You can never stop until every part of your God-given assignment has been fulfilled. Jogging along at a comfortable pace will never get you where you need to go. You must focus your attention on the goal and then strategize, plan, and work until you can confidently say, “I’ve done exactly what Jesus wanted me to do!” But be forewarned: Achieving this goal will demand your utmost concentration and undivided attention and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
Do you know God’s plan for your life? Do you know the assignment He has designed just for you? Are you following after that divine call with all your heart? If not, today is the perfect time to start discovering and then following after God’s call on your life!
This week’s devotional is from Sparkling Gems with Rick Renner. Visit his website at www.renner.org.
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