"Brothers and sisters, I know that I have not yet reached that goal, but there is one thing I always do. Forgetting the past and straining toward what is ahead, I keep trying to reach the goal and get the prize for which God called me through Christ to the life above." (NCV)
What is God saying?
Even though God's followers might not ever become perfect like Christ, they should not get discouraged, but keep working toward that goal.
What is God saying to us today?
When it comes to the idea of perfection, there is a tension that exists, or at least should exist, in the lives of Christians. We are called to be perfect, like our Heavenly Father is perfect, but it seems basically impossible to do. Unfortunately, that leads to two extremes. The first extreme is getting consumed by trying to become perfect - we are so focused in keeping the rules that we miss the point of the rules (like the Pharisees of Jesus' day). The second extreme is ignoring the rules completely, because it's just impossible to follow them perfectly - we lose hope and end up doing whatever we want (like the outcasts of Jesus' day). Yet neither of those options does us any good. Instead we must desire to follow the rules and do our best to keep them (not to be saved, but to be more like Jesus), but allow God's grace to keep us going when we fall short.
What is God inviting us to do?
Have you gone to the extreme of legalism or hopelessness? God invites us to walk the middle way, to allow His grace to keep pushing us toward the goal even when the goal seems too far to reach.