Our theme this year is straining toward the goal. The goal is the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Paul wrote the Philippian church from prison to tell them to keep their focus on the prize of eternal life. Paul himself was straining forward and was “hunting down” the goal for the prize. This was anything but a passive living out of his faith. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Paul was very actively and strenuously working toward the goal to win the prize.
But he doesn’t just ask people to do likewise. He takes it a step farther and invites them to imitate him: “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us” (Philippians 3:17 ESV). He is not being arrogant here. In fact, he reminds the saints, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (vs. 20, 21).
This is why we shouldn’t focus on earthly things. Those things are temporary and eternal life is forever. It’s far more valuable than anything we can possess on this earth. Paul was a man of his word and wouldn’t ask the saints to do something he was not willing to do himself.