Paul and Solomon’s lives followed similar trajectories. Both men could boast high accomplishments. Solomon described his in the book of Ecclesiastes, and Paul listed his in the early verses of Philippians 3.
Still, their impressive pasts left both men short of the glory of God.
It was the future that held promise for them, and it is the future that holds promise for us. A stockpile of good works amounts to … nothing. For this reason, Paul writes of forgetting the past and of pressing on.
Pressing on was more than inward resolve; it was, as Paul himself described it, a matter of an upward call. More than victory over enemies, and certainly much more than work-related accomplishments—even though his work was “ministry”—the upward call was all about future glory.
Above all, Paul longed to be in the presence of his Savior. The certainty that that day was coming is what moved him forward.
The promise of future glory strengthened Paul to endure present agony. This is what we often call “living in light of eternity.” Jesus Himself held on to this mindset on the cross (“who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross” Hebrews 12:2).
As followers of Christ, our deep resolve will never be found while looking only at things only as they are in the present. It is future glory that shapes our upward call and helps us press on.
I press on toward the goal
for the prize of the upward call of God
in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:14 ESV)