Paul wrote in Phil. 3:13, “straining forward to what lies ahead.” Paul pictures himself as a runner not looking back. Now Paul sees himself as a runner straining forward to the goal. He is straining forward, stretching every muscle. He will keep his eye on the finish line. He will bend his body forward until the finish line. He has no intention to falter or fail or give up. He will keep running until he reaches the goal.
Paul wrote, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” He is not running aimlessly. He is running with his eye toward the goal, to win the prize. His life is driven by a purpose—to know Christ.
After a church service on Sunday morning, a young boy suddenly announced to his mother, ‘I’ve decided to become a minister when I grow up.’
‘That’s okay with us, but what made you decide that?’
‘Well,’ said the little boy, ‘I have to go to church on Sunday anyway, and I figure it
will be more fun to stand up and yell, than to sit and listen.’
What is your goal in life? Is it to finish school, work, marry, make money, and die? Is that what your life is all about? Did God put you here to make money and forget God? Did God put you here to grow old and die?
There is more to that. God put you here to glorify God. God put you here to know God. God is the God who wants people to know Him, love Him, and worship Him. In knowing God, you will find satisfaction, meaning, and purpose in God. You will only know God through Jesus Christ. Thus, your goal is to know God through Christ. That is the goal of the apostle Paul. That is our goal as followers of Christ.
Paul says, I press on toward the goal for the prize. What is this prize? Paul says, “the prize of the upward call.” The prize is the full and complete knowing of Christ. The prize is the total laying hold of Christ who laid hold of Paul. The prize is the reward of perfect fellowship with Christ, for whom Paul has counted all things but loss. The prize is Christ Himself.
The call comes from God—the one who called you. This call from God is in Christ Jesus. It is only in the sphere of Christ that God calls you.
The call is upward because it is heavenward. The call is upward not because it comes from heaven. The call is upward because it leads to heaven.
What are you living for today? I hope you will say today, I am living for Christ today. I want to know Christ, to know His sufferings, to know His death. Forgetting what lies behind, straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal of knowing Christ. I press on for the prize of perfect fellowship and knowledge of Christ.
 Gerald F. Hawthorne, Philippians (WBC 43; ed. Ralph P. Martin; Nashville:Thomas Nelson, 2004), 210.