Pressing On Philippians 3:13-14 Devotional

We all have days when we feel overwhelmed by life’s demands. But understanding the meaning of Philippians 3:13-14 gives us valuable insights into our faith as we continue to live a Christian life and continue pressing on despite hardships.

Pressing Toward the Goal Bible Verse

At the beginning of each year, I chose a verse to focus on. One that I believe God is pointing me to. I guess it’s my version of a New Year’s resolution. Like everyone, I always feel like this will be the year when I get it all together. I start off strong, following what God has told me to do. But just like all resolutions, when life takes over, they’re harder and harder to keep. However, having a certain scripture to turn to in the hard times keeps me on track. I don’t have to wonder what God has given me to focus on, it’s right there in black and white. Last year it was all about being steadfast. And this year is a continuation of that sentiment. Let’s take a look…

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:13-14 ESV

I have no doubt that you’ve read this verse or heard it preached many times over. But I hope you’ll take a moment to see it with fresh eyes. Because God has given us great encouragement in this scripture.

The funny thing is, Philippians 3:13-14 is one of my two “life verses”. If you’re not familiar with what a life verse is, it’s simply a verse that you turn to over and over again in every season of your life. Because it’s one of my personal life verses, I never thought that it would be one of my yearly ones. But God had other plans.

But what I love about this passage of scripture is how it speaks to me in so many situations. Usually, when we read Philippians 3:13-14 it’s because we’ve hit a roadblock that we can’t seem to get around, or something so bad has happened in our life that we can’t see a way out of it. And in a lot of circumstances that’s a valid way to look at it.

However, sometimes it’s a past success that stands in the way of God’s grace pouring down on us. He wants to do something new in our lives or lead us in a different direction, but we’ve already made up our minds about where we’re going and left Him in the dust.

Either way, our past experience taints our view and we lose sight of the prize of the high calling of God. So, whatever we face this year and beyond, let’s endeavor to let go of ourselves and keep pressing on.

Philippians 3:13-14 Meaning

This New Testament verse is a personal declaration from the Apostle Paul, that sums up his spiritual pursuit. It’s a powerful statement of determination and heavenly aspiration that is unshakable even in the toughest of times. Because this pressing on is not about physical strength or earthly rewards. Instead, it’s about the lifelong process toward spiritual maturity and the ultimate goal of unity with Christ that we as true believers are on. It reminds us to focus on spiritual progress over perfection, leaving behind our past shortcomings and moving forward with purpose.

To fully understand the meaning of Philippians 3:14, it’s essential to grasp the historical context in which it was written. The Apostle Paul’s life was full of hardship. When he wrote this letter addressed to the church in Philippi, Paul was in prison, or likely under house arrest in Rome (around AD 62). And the recipients of this epistle were primarily non-Jewish or Gentile Christians living in Philippi, a Roman colony in Macedonia. They were under great strain both religiously and politically. And Paul wanted to encourage their faith even in the midst of hardship.

About his personal inner journey of faith, Paul wrote this…


I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.

Acts 20:23 New International Version

In this verse, Paul discusses a unique aspect of his own journey of faith. The Holy Spirit had told Paul that he would face hard times. And he knew that his faith would be put to the test. To overcome he would need to persevere under pressure. For Paul, this meant forgetting the past and moving forward to the next thing God had in store for him.

For us as Christians, it’s a continual process of growth and forward movement in our personal faith walk as well. But we have Paul’s example of faith under fire to inspire us on along the journey. And through Paul’s words in Philippians 3:13-14, God is inviting us to consider our own life’s trajectory in light of the high calling we have in Jesus Christ each and every day.

Pursuing Christ through Philippians 3

It’s also important to note that this particular verse from Philippians is part of a larger discussion about our Christian maturity as we pursue Christ in our daily lives. The Apostle Paul stated that he hasn’t yet reached perfection but relentlessly pursues it as Christ has laid hold of him. And we can do the same.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,

Philippians 3:12-13 New International Version


Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;

Philippians 3:8-9 NKJV

In the previous verses, Paul uses himself as an example of perseverance to encourage the Philippians and us to persist in the Christian journey despite challenges or setbacks along the way. It’s about determination and goal-oriented living, emphasizing the Christian faith as an ongoing, active pursuit rather than a one-time event. This continuous process of becoming more like Christ is known as sanctification.

He speaks of a “prize”, which refers to the ultimate reward for those who live faithfully according to the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is victory in the resurrection of Christ and the eternal life we have in knowing Him as our Savior.

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Spiritual Perseverance

At its core, Philippians 3:13-14 is about spiritual perseverance.

In this scripture from Philippians 3:13-14, the original Greek Word for “press on” is the verb dioko that points to an athlete who eagerly runs a race fully intent on reaching the end goal. The Apostle Paul uses the metaphor of a race to describe the Christian life. But there is a clear spiritual aim in this challenging, yet encouraging verse. And when we dissect it, we uncover layers of meaning within God’s Word. So, let’s break it down and discover all God has to say to us about persevering in our spiritual life.

“I press on”

You can imagine Paul as an athlete in a race, focusing solely on the finish line. His goal isn’t just any destination; it’s a heavenly one set by God.

Just like an athlete, it takes diligent effort and determination on our part. Moving past not only our failures but also our successes to continue the work of God’s call on our lives.

“toward the goal” 

The “goal” signifies the end point of the race; for Christian runners, it’s a life lived in full alignment with God’s will. Giving Him our all and crossing the finish line with nothing left in the tank.

“to win the prize”

Paul isn’t running aimlessly. He strives for a reward, which isn’t a tangible item but the ultimate spiritual blessing in Christ.

Just like an Olympian who receives a gold medal or a football player who wins a trophy, there’s a reward at the end of the Christian race too. Our prize is new life in our Lord Jesus Christ. It’s eternal life that promises us a future in heaven when this life is over.

“for which God has called me”

The upward call of God distinguishes Paul’s race from mundane endeavors. It’s an invitation to live for Jesus, instead of earthly concerns.

This is the divine purpose of the Christian journey. God has given each one of us a job to do here on earth that drives us forward in our pursuit of faithfulness to this call.

Most importantly, this race isn’t a competition against others, instead, it’s a personal calling to reach the full potential of our faith in Jesus. The heavenward call emphasizes a spiritual quest over earthly pursuits, encouraging us to focus on spiritual progress rather than worldly successes.

Paul’s Spiritual Goal in Philippians 3:13-14

To better understand Paul’s message of perseverance, let’s consider these two key points:

Paul’s Personal History

In his former life, Paul was a persecutor of the church. Before he was the Apostle Paul, he was Saul of Tarsus, a Pharisee who fiercely opposed Christians, even tracking them down and bringing them to the authorities to face prosecution. It was while he was pursuing some Christians on the road to Damascus that he met Jesus and experienced a dramatic conversion to Christianity that led to a complete turnaround in his life.


Life Application for You

This metaphor of the “race” is about your spiritual walk with resilience. Maybe you didn’t oppose believers the same way that Paul once did, but you can still have your own Damascus road face-to-face meeting with Jesus and experience a total turnaround in your life too. By focusing on the prize, you’ll discover what’s truly valuable, and see life through eternal eyes.


Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV

In this context, your goal mirrors Paul’s: pursuing a life aligned with God’s purpose through your faith in Christ. It involves dedication and perseverance, much like a rigorous training regimen followed by an athlete. Keep your eyes on the prize, an eternal fellowship with God, which outshines any temporary achievements.

Remember, the journey isn’t easy, and you may face distractions or obstacles, but like Paul, maintain your course. This single-minded pursuit defines your spiritual journey, one that’s not measured by worldly success but by your closeness to the divine call of God.

I hope that by dissecting this metaphor in Philippians 3:13-14, you can understand how to apply it to your daily life as you reflect on your own Christian race and the ultimate goal that guides your actions.

I press toward the mark Philippians 3:13-14

The Prize of the Upward Call

Philippians 3:13-14 has a compelling vision set forth by the Apostle Paul. He describes the prize of the upward call in Christ Jesus as the ultimate goal for believers. This verse encourages you to think about your spiritual journey as a race, where achieving closeness with Christ is the reward.

Our Aim: To press on towards the goal for the prize.

The Goal: The upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

The Outcome: A heavenly calling that transcends earthly achievements.

Envision your life as a marathon, with each step forward drawing you closer to a relationship with God. The “upward call” refers to your divine invitation from God to pursue a life that mirrors Jesus’ character and teachings. This is not about worldly success but about spiritual fulfillment and eternal life.

Comparison to Earthly Rewards: These are transient and pale in comparison.

Spiritual Rewards: These are eternal life, a deepened relationship with Christ, and inner peace and contentment.

Your perseverance in faith, and striving for spiritual growth, garners you a prize unlike any earthly accolade. This reward is personal, as you experience a transformation aligned with Christian values and are invited to share in the divine nature.

Remember, this prize is not earned by merit but by following Jesus and remaining steadfast in your faith. Your spiritual discipline and dedication shape your life’s trajectory toward this heavenly call, embodying the Christian ideals of God’s love and grace, and our humility as a member of the family of God.

So, keep your gaze fixed on this divine invitation and let it guide your steps as you journey forward in faith.


Challenges in Pursuing the Goal

While living out Philippians 3:13-14, you’ll quickly find that pursuing your spiritual “goal” comes with many challenges. Life just works that way. So, lets’ take a look at a few common challenges and how to overcome them.


Your journey is not without distractions. These can come in many forms, work commitments, social media, or even personal hobbies. You need to identify distractions early and manage them to stay focused on spiritual growth.


Conflicting Desires

You might experience a battle between spiritual pursuits and earthly desires. It’s common to feel torn between the two. Grounding yourself in faith-driven practices can help balance your conflicting desires. Reflect, and engage in faith practices.


The path you are on requires long-term commitment and the discipline to persist, even when progress seems slow. Daily reminders or setting up small milestones can be effective in maintaining your determination over time. Set small goals, and celebrate milestones.

External Pressures

Societal or peer pressure might push you in directions away from your goal. Remember that your path is unique to you, and it’s important to stay true to what you believe is right, even in the face of external opposition. Set boundaries.

Prioritizing your time and efforts will be essential in overcoming these challenges. Stay connected with supportive communities that share your values and can provide encouragement when you face obstacles.

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Practical Steps to Apply Philippians 3:13-14 into Your Life

In light of Philippians 3:14, you are called to pursue spiritual goals with the same dedication as an athlete strives for the prize. Set your sights on developing a deeper relationship with God and embodying Christian virtues in your actions.

Stay Focused and don’t let past mistakes hinder your spiritual growth.

Run with Purpose by living intentionally for Christ in all areas. And remember your daily life is the race marked out for you; live intentionally for Christ in all areas.

Embrace Growth by overcoming obstacles and leaning on your faith and the support of your community.

Pursue excellence by prioritizing devotional times, prayer, and other spiritual disciplines.

Press onward by setting personal spiritual goals and pursuing them daily.

Aim for the prize by keeping the love of God and His promise of eternal life through faith in Christ as your main focus.

Remember, this journey requires perseverance. It’s about consistently choosing to live in a way that honors your calling in Christ Jesus. As you navigate life’s challenges, let this scripture serve as a reminder to keep your eyes fixed on the ultimate goal, the heavenly prize.

Read More in this Devotional: Race to the Finish 1 Corinthians 9:24-26

Role of Faith and Effort

In Philippians 3:13-14, faith plays an essential role as it aligns you with the divine purpose and keeps your focus on the goal of spiritual maturity. It’s your sincere trust in God’s promises that fuels perseverance. On this journey, imagine faith as the compass directing your efforts along God’s chosen path for you.

Your effort, however, is like the steps you take following the compass. It’s active participation in your spiritual growth and not passively waiting for change that will make the difference.

Faith and effort work hand-in-hand. Faith inspires effort, and effort nurtures faith, creating a dynamic and symbiotic relationship. Remember, your walk with God is both a trust in His ways and a journey marked by your steps of obedience and persistence.

Philippians 3:13-14 in Christian Theology

Philippians 3:13-14 is a verse that resonates deeply within Christian theology by encapsulating the essence of a Christian’s spiritual journey and call to action.

The Goal: Your ultimate aim is to live a life that reflects your faith and commitment to God’s calling.

The Prize: This symbolizes the eternal life and salvation that are promised through faith in Jesus Christ.

The Upward Call: You are encouraged to aspire for spiritual growth and heavenly standards, rather than earthly ones.

The Apostle Paul uses athletic imagery here to convey the discipline and perseverance required in your walk of faith. Your life as a believer is often described as a race, demanding focus and dedication to God’s purpose.

Christian teaching emphasizes that your righteousness comes from faith in Christ, and not from your own accomplishments. Philippians 3:14 inspires you to live a purpose-driven life, aiming for a reward beyond worldly achievements.

The perseverance required is not a solitary task but is supported by a community of faith, and most importantly, by the divine grace of God.

Remember, this pursuit is not for a fleeting crown, but for an everlasting one. It challenges us to look beyond the temporary and to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and the promise of eternal life that He offers. It encourages us to press on in our faith, despite any challenges, And it shapes our conduct and choices in the present.

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Impact on Christian Ethics

In Philippians 3:13-14, the apostle Paul speaks about pressing on toward a goal for the reward of the heavenly calling in Christ Jesus. As Christians, this message has a profound influence on how we live our daily lives by inspiring us to have higher ethical standards. Here are a few things to reflect on as you go about your day.

Purpose-Driven Action

You are encouraged to live a life aimed at fulfilling a higher purpose, which in turn promotes ethical behaviors aligned with Christian teachings.

Moral Ambition

Striving for the prize, you cultivate a determination to adhere to moral excellence and virtuous living.

Model Integrity

In your daily life and decisions, mimicking Jesus’ life of unwavering principles becomes a guiding force.

Practice Altruism

Embracing selflessness and caring for others, you reflect the love that is central to Christian ethics.

Personal Growth

Never becoming complacent but always advancing in ethical understanding and actions. This ambition positively benefits not only your life but also the lives of those around you, as ethical beacons of Christianity in society.

More Scriptures Like Philippians 3:13-14 to Help You Press On

The theme of pursuit towards a spiritual goal laid out in Philippians 3:13-14 is consistent with other writings of Paul known as the Pauline texts. Let’s read a few of them and notice the emphasis on spiritual perseverance.

Striving for a Crown


Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NKJV

Notice how Paul uses the analogy of an athlete in a race again. He emphasizes athletic discipline and self-control for the sake of winning an imperishable wreath, just like the eternal prize mentioned in Philippians.

Love Fulfills the Law


You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?

Galatians 5:7 NKJV

Paul asks the Galatians who hindered them from obeying the truth, implying a race that should be run without obstacle. Like in Philippians, we are encouraged to press on and continue running the race without hindrance.

The Good Fight


I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

2 Timothy 4:7-8 NKJV

Here Paul reflects on his life as having fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith, indicating completion and eventual reward. This should be our goal as Christians too. To fight the good fight and finish the race of life well. Completing the work God has given us here on earth and preserving the faith for future generations.

More Scriptures about Pressing On


being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

Philippians 1:6 NKJV



that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Philippians 3:10-11 New King James Version


For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

Philippians 3:3-6 NKJV

By examining these texts side by side, I hope you’ve gained a better understanding of Paul’s consistent message about perseverance and focusing on faith. Each snippet from Paul’s letters encourages us to persist in our spiritual journey with the assurance of a heavenly reward.


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Old Testament Bible Verses About Pressing On


The previous verses are from the New Testament. But the whole Bible is full of scriptures of truth that point us to the good news of salvation in Jesus. So, let’s read a few more from the writings of the Old Testament and find inspiration for the race ahead in them too.

   giving power to the tired
and reviving the exhausted.
Youths will become tired and weary,
young men will certainly stumble;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength;
they will fly up on wings like eagles;
they will run and not be tired;
they will walk and not be weary.

Isaiah 40:29-31 Common English Bible



I run to you, Lord,
for protection.
Don’t disappoint me.
You do what is right,
so come to my rescue.
Listen to my prayer
and keep me safe.

Psalm 71:1-2 CEV



If you have raced with men on foot
and they have worn you out,
how can you compete with horses?
If you stumble in safe country,
how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?

Jeremiah 12:5 NIV



They charge like warriors;
they scale walls like soldiers.
They all march in line,
not swerving from their course.

Joel 2:7 NIV

Now is the time to leave the past behind and move forward. And this Bible verse about pressing on gives us the goal to do just that. No matter what your reason for wanting to move on is, God is always for you and never against you. He will give you the strength to set aside any failure, hardship, or pain you have. Look to Him and continue pressing on!

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