Run Straight Toward the Goal
1 Now then, brothers and sisters, be joyful in the Lord. It’s no trouble for me to write the same things to you, and it’s for your safety. 2 Beware of dogs! Beware of those who do evil things. Beware of those who insist on circumcision. 3 We are the ⌊true⌋ circumcised people ⌊of God⌋ because we serve God’s Spirit and take pride in Christ Jesus. We don’t place any confidence in physical things, 4 although I could have confidence in my physical qualifications. If anyone else thinks that he can trust in something physical, I can claim even more. 5 I was circumcised on the eighth day. I’m a descendant of Israel. I’m from the tribe of Benjamin. I’m a pure-blooded Hebrew. When it comes to following Jewish laws, I was a Pharisee. 6 When it comes to being enthusiastic, I was a persecutor of the church. When it comes to winning God’s approval by obeying Jewish laws, I was perfect.
7 These things that I once considered valuable, I now consider worthless for Christ. 8 It’s far more than that! I consider everything else worthless because I’m much better off knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. It’s because of him that I think of everything as worthless. I threw it all away in order to gain Christ 9 and to have a relationship with him. This means that I didn’t receive God’s approval by obeying his laws. The opposite is true! I have God’s approval through faith in Christ. This is the approval that comes from God and is based on faith 10 that knows Christ. Faith knows the power that his coming back to life gives and what it means to share his suffering. In this way I’m becoming like him in his death, 11 with the confidence that I’ll come back to life from the dead.
12 It’s not that I’ve already reached the goal or have already completed the course. But I run to win that which Jesus Christ has already won for me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I can’t consider myself a winner yet. This is what I do: I don’t look back, I lengthen my stride, and 14 I run straight toward the goal to win the prize that God’s heavenly call offers in Christ Jesus.
15 Whoever has a mature faith should think this way. And if you think differently, God will show you how to think. 16 However, we should be guided by what we have learned so far.
17 Brothers and sisters, imitate me, and pay attention to those who live by the example we have given you. 18 I have often told you, and now tell you with tears in my eyes, that many live as the enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 In the end they will be destroyed. Their own emotions are their god, and they take pride in the shameful things they do. Their minds are set on worldly things. 20 We, however, are citizens of heaven. We look forward to the Lord Jesus Christ coming from heaven as our Savior. 21 Through his power to bring everything under his authority, he will change our humble bodies and make them like his glorified body.
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