The Spiritual Mind - Chapter 3 - Cont'd.
I havent read a story for a while and Pauls illustration here
certainly seems to call for a very specific one.
The Hare and The Tortoise
"A Hare one day ridiculed the short feet and slow pace of the Tortoise, who
replied, laughing: Though you be swift as the wind, I will beat you in a
race. The Hare, believing her assertion to be simply impossible, assented
to the proposal; and they agreed that the Fox should choose the course and
fix the goal. On the day appointed for the race the two started together.
The Tortoise never for a moment stopped, but went on with a slow but steady
pace straight to the end of the course. The Hare, lying down by the wayside,
fell fast asleep. At last waking up, and moving as fast as he could, he saw
the Tortoise had reached the goal, and was comfortably dozing after her fatigue.
Slow but steady wins the race. 1
We have seen how by focus on the Lord and His call to our obedience we can
keep our perspective on life. The result is circumstances, people and as
we are currently considering, things do not steal our joy.
It is as we loose focus on our primary call, to love God, others and to make
disciples that we get pulled down by the negatives of life, and instead of
joy find stress, anxiety and pain. The issue is our we God focused or self
focused? Are we walking on water or are we drowning?
In this chapter, Paul has been noting that all people depend on to give them
self-esteem in the vernacular is worthless. In fact, the
worlds perspective is worthless. It is only that we have from and through
God that holds any worth.
In the second half of the chapter Paul removes his focus from what is left
behind to what we should be looking towards, pressing on toward the
goal. He describes the benefits of a godly focus in verses 10-11 where
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection
and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his
death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the
The Spiritual Mind Chapter 3
Pauls Present (the athleteI press) Chapter 3:12-16
Pauls Future (the alienI look) Chapter 3:17-21
Verses 12-14: I find this very comforting. Paul, after noting all
that he desires from his relationship with the Lord, tells us, he isnt
there yet. But he isnt letting himself be dragged back by anything
in the past. Instead his focus is on moving forward. He is constantly desiring
to experience all that he had expressed in the previous verses.
This is also a statement of mature dissatisfaction. Paul cant rest
on his laurels. He recognizes that the Christian life requires constant moving
forward towards maturity, or as I frequently put it, you cant stop
growing until they throw the dirt in the hole. Generally speaking, if we
arent moving forward, we are sliding back. What do you think is a factor
in becoming self satisfied? It is comparing ourselves to others. After all
we can always find someone who hasnt get it together as much as we
An inappropriate focus on past failures can be one of the things that steals
our joy. Now there are two extremes in dealing with past issues. One is to
completely ignore them. But when we do that we tend to repeat them. Ignoring
them means we cant learn from them. The other problem is becoming obsessed
with them so we are always looking backward. And, we all know what happened
to Lots wife. Kent puts it this way:
Forgetting did not mean obliterating the memory of the past (Paul
has just recalled some of these things in vv.5-7), but a conscious refusal
to let them absorb his attention and impede his progress. He never allowed
his Jewish heritage (vv.5-7) nor his previous Christian attainments (vv.9-12)
to obstruct his running of the race. No present attainment could lull him
into thinking he already possessed all Christ desired for him.
So, while it is inappropriate to look back in a destructive sense, there
is one thing Paul can do. And it is from this we see Pauls illustration,
an athletic one. If one is a runner he keeps his eyes focused ahead towards
the goal. If you are an archer you have to keep your eyes on the target.
If fact if you loose focus even after releasing the arrow, it impacts the
success of the shot. Pauls effort goes to keeping his eye on the
Pauls goal is to know Christ better, to have a deeper relationship
with Him. Consequently, in eternity he will get his prize. And what is that
prize? The fulfillment of his goal. He will have a deeper relationship with
his Lord. The fulfillment of the Christian life is the result of time and