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I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14

Sometimes I think we as Christ-followers have a warped view of our Bible heroes. Take the Apostle Paul for example. We lift him up as a man we all want to emulate. After all, he wrote most of the New Testament, was responsible for starting many, many churches and, among other things had the wisdom and chutzpa to stand up to Peter and get into his face on a couple of occasions. What a guy!

But I appreciate Paul for more than his godly wisdom and spiritual insight. I admire more the many times in Scripture when he speaks candidly about his own failures. I think Paul would scream in horror if he heard and saw how we elevate him sometimes.

Take for example his letter to the Philippians. Three times in the first few verses of chapter three it’s as if Paul is saying, “I haven’t reached perfection yet. I still fail. I struggle with the same old sins. I battle temptation constantly. Sometimes I win. Sometimes I lose. But, I press on to the higher standard God has called me to in Christ Jesus.”

Isn’t that the way each of us feel when we are honest with ourselves? We aren’t called to perfection. We’re called to battle. We aren’t expected to win every battle with temptation, but we are encouraged to fight each battle with determination and will.

Sometimes that means giving up our ‘rights’. Sometimes we’ll be misunderstood or wrongfully accused. Sometimes we’ll just plain fail. Jesus is more interested in the direction you are heading than how many battles you win. He’s more excited about how hard you fight than your win-loss record. He knows you’ll lose some battles. He knows he’s already won the war.

Don’t get discouraged when it seems the old life has too much power over you. You have been called to battle with Jesus at your side. Don’t give up on yourself. Sometimes you’ll win the big battles; sometimes you’ll lose the small ones. Either way, pick yourself up, brush the dirt from your clothes and press on knowing the Jesus is running alongside cheering you on to victory and comforting you in defeat.

PRAYER: Jesus, there are so many times I’ve failed you. I get up in the morning determined to win and climb back in bed hours later battered, bruised and embarrassed by my weakness. Forgive me for my failure. Empower me to press on. In your name, Amen.

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May 2011
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