Whenever I am asked, “What’s your resolution for the new year?”, my answer tends to evoke looks of surprise: “None.”

Unlike many people, I do not have the habit of making resolutions for each new year.

I do, however, like to take time to reflect regularly on my spiritual well-being and my relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, and review my faith, love, and service to Him and others.

Recently, I decided to look at my reflections on various Bible passages and the lessons that I had hoped to put into practice. It was both refreshing and sobering to discover areas where my faith had been stretched and deepened.

One memorable lesson came from Philippians 3:12–17, which showed me how I could continue to progress in my spiritual journey this new year. In this familiar passage, Paul compares himself to a runner as he talks about his life pursuit of knowing Christ and becoming like Him.

What struck me were several insights arising from the comparison:

1. Keep going, we’re not there yet

What keeps Paul going is what awaits him at the end of the race—knowing the power of Christ’s resurrection and participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, “and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead” (vv. 10–11). At the finish line, Paul knows he will eventually receive the heavenly prize of attaining God’s perfection and being fully transformed into Christ’s likeness.

But Paul knows that he has not attained this yet (vv. 12–13), just as many of us have not, either.

So he continues to run the race, knowing that he has to keep going if he wants to reach this goal and receive the reward at the end—everlasting life with his Lord and Saviour in heaven. We, too, need to remember that we’re not there yet—so we need to keep going.

2. Stay focused, don’t be distracted

Although Paul knows that Christ Jesus has already won the race for us and had appointed us to win it, we, too, need to stay focused. We need to remain single-minded, and keep our eyes on the prize that awaits us at the finishing line.

This demands discipline and devotion on our part. We need to discipline ourselves in spending time to seek after God, reading His Word, praying to Him, and discovering how we can fulfil His purposes for us on earth.

At the same time, we need to be aware of the distractions that can take our eyes off the prize, and lead us off the racetrack. Our own ambitions, goals, and other preoccupations in daily life can derail us, while the challenges of life can discourage us from continuing to run.

While we will certainly face trials and temptations, we can see them as avenues for our faith in Christ to be stretched and deepened. Spiritual training is tough, but our mental and spiritual muscles will be strengthened by the experiences, and energise us to press on in the race.

3. Put the past behind, look forward

To complete the race, we need to forget the things that are behind us (v. 13). Our lifelong race, as one Bible teacher aptly described it, is one of “sanctified progression, not sinless perfection”. We may stumble along the way, but let us not be burdened by past mistakes, wrongdoings, and guilt.

At the same time, we cannot also keep looking back at our past successes and achievements, thinking that they are enough to keep us in the race. Completing the race doesn’t just mean running a good first half; we need to run the second half well, too.

We all can be thankful to Christ for His abundant mercy and grace that enables us to put the past behind, and for His strength to stay focused and press on to what’s before us, for the reward that awaits us.

While we may have some goals and plans for this new year, such as a wedding, moving into a new house, waiting eagerly for the birth of a child, doing well for an important examination, or starting a new job, may we not let them prevail over our ultimate goal: knowing more of Christ, becoming more like Him, and making Him known.

Lord, in this new year, help me to keep my eyes on You in this spiritual race. Thank You for Your mercy that allows me to put my past behind, and give me persistence and patience to keep going, knowing that You have prepared for me the ultimate prize of eternal life with You.

How does one keep going in this race called life? How can we not lose heart, endure hardship, and keep our eyes on Jesus? Check out this 9-day reading plan that draws insightful lessons from the Epistles.

Christopher Tan has been a full-time ministry worker for more than 30 years. He spent 16 years as a youth worker in Singapore Youth for Christ before joining Our Daily Bread Ministries, where he is currently serving. A father of three sons and grandfather of three, he never ceases to be amazed and humbled by the power of God’s Word to change lives. He enjoys writing, which he is trying to do more of, and raiding his fridge, which he is trying to do less of.

Read More Spotlight Articles