The Covenant Brethren Church Executive Board has selected Philippians 3:13-14 to be our theme verses for the coming year.

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

In the journey of life, we often find ourselves reflecting on our past experiences, both the victories and the defeats. We carry the weight of our past mistakes, regrets, and accomplishments. Sometimes, these memories can hinder our progress in our walk with Christ. However, in Philippians 3:13-14, the apostle Paul provides us with a powerful perspective on how to navigate our spiritual journey with purpose and determination.

Paul begins by acknowledging that he has not yet reached the ultimate spiritual destination. Despite his remarkable accomplishments and profound spiritual experiences, he humbly admits that he has not “taken hold of it.” This admission reminds us that even the most mature believers are still on a journey of growth and transformation in Christ. There is always more to learn, more to experience, and more to become in our walk with the Lord.

Paul’s next words are crucial: “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.” Here, Paul encourages us to let go of the past, both the positive and negative aspects of it, and to focus on what lies ahead. This is not an invitation to erase our memories but rather a call to release the burdens of the past that can hinder our progress. Dwelling on past mistakes can lead to guilt and shame, while dwelling on past successes can lead to complacency. Instead, Paul urges us to fix our gaze on the future and the eternal prize that awaits us.

The imagery of “straining toward what is ahead” conveys the idea of intense effort and determination. Just as an athlete exerts every ounce of energy to reach the finish line, we are called to give our all in our pursuit of Christlikeness. This effort is not based on our own strength but on the empowering grace of God working within us. It’s a daily commitment to seek God’s will, grow in faith, and become more like Jesus.

Why do we press on with such determination? Paul provides the answer: “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” The ultimate prize is the heavenly calling that God has placed on our lives. It is the promise of eternal life with Christ, where all our striving, suffering, and growth in faith will find its full and glorious fulfillment.

As you meditate on these verses, I pray you are encouraged to adopt Paul’s perspective in your own journey of faith. The CBC is determined to look to the future with great anticipation for what God has in store for us.

Grover Duling, CBC Executive Board Chair