[CF Devotionals] 2003-11-06 - Hares and Tortoises

Part 29

  1. The Spiritual Mind - Chapter 3 - Cont'd.

    I haven’t read a story for a while and Paul’s 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 world’s 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 he states:

    “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 dead.”

    1. The Spiritual Mind Chapter 3
      (Key Verse—3:19-20)
      1. Paul’s Present (the athlete—“I press”) Chapter 3:12-16
      2. Paul’s Future (the alien—“I 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 isn’t there yet. But he isn’t 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 can’t rest on his laurels. He recognizes that the Christian life requires constant moving forward towards maturity, or as I frequently put it, you can’t stop growing until they throw the dirt in the hole. Generally speaking, if we aren’t 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 hasn’t get it together as much as we have.

    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 can’t learn from them. The other problem is becoming obsessed with them so we are always looking backward. And, we all know what happened to Lot’s 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.” 2

    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 Paul’s 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. Paul’s effort goes to keeping his eye on the “prize.”

    Paul’s 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 process.

  1. Aesop, The Hare and the Tortoise, The Master Christian Library, AGES Software, Albany, OR, Version 6.0 © 1998.
  2. Kent, Homer H., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, “Philippians,” Zondervan Interactive Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1990, Electronic text hypertexted and prepared by OakTree Software, Inc.

Questions or Comments?

[email geoff] gkragen@aol.com