The Christmas Prize | December 18

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 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, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” — Philippians 3:12–14

Christmas is a week away. I hope your holiday season has been filled with lots of fun and memorable moments. Many of you are probably organized, shopped, and ready for Christmas. And then there are lots of us who wait until the last week to get everything done.

Either way, for most of us Christmas is a fun time of crazy and excitement all wrapped up in pretty packaging and sparkling lights. The goal is next Monday, so “press on.”

In yesterday’s verses, Paul talked about how important it is for us to really know Christ and the power there is in his resurrection. In today’s verses, Paul goes on to say how he has not already achieved perfection (or truly understanding Jesus and the power of the cross), but he presses on to make that his goal.

We all know that it’s impossible to be perfect on earth. We are sinful and cannot expect to live perfect lives. However, we “press on” (or keep working) to make it our goal to live as Jesus has commanded, to follow his teachings, love others, and worship him all of our days. When we live as Jesus taught us, we will be an example to others and, hopefully, make them want to know Jesus too.

Just like we can’t live a perfect life, our Christmas will never be “perfect” either. Christmas will always have some things we wish were different. You may not love the big present you receive. Maybe your favorite relative isn’t coming this year. Or maybe you will get the dreaded stomach bug, and all bets are off. Life and Christmas are not perfect. And that’s OK as long as we are pressing on toward our larger goal of knowing Jesus better.

It’s easy at Christmas to focus on who Jesus was as a baby in the manger. But Paul would want us also to think about who Jesus grew up to be (which means we have to think about Easter too). That precious baby of Christmas grew up to live a perfect life so he could die for our sins and allow us to live forever. And why did he do this?

So we could all have the opportunity to be sons or daughters of God. God chose you to be in his family! Romans 8 tells us that we were adopted into the family of God.

Adoption is a sweet thought for my family. As I’m writing this, it’s especially on my mind because we found out yesterday that we get to adopt our foster baby next week! We have been waiting for this day for twenty months, and how precious that the Lord has given us the desires of our heart. We want this sweet boy to know all the days of his life how much we love him.

We chose him. And much more importantly, we want him to know that he is loved by the Lord. God chose him to be in his family! And he chose you too. Once we really understand this, we will better understand that the problems of this world and Christmases that aren’t perfect don’t matter. The only true perfection comes when we get to spend all of our Christmases with Jesus one day.

The perfection of heaven is our goal, and, praise God, it is also our promise for this Christmas and all the others to come.

Lord, may we know that this world is imperfect and that you came to overcome it. We are adopted members of your family, and you chose us to live with you forever and ever one day!