Weekly Sermon
Delivered By
Dr. Eugene Sherman
Delivered On
May 27, 2018 at 10:45 AM
Subject
The Race and the Goal
Description

 

The Race and the Goal

 

 

The Race and the Goal 
“This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, andreaching forth unto those things which are before, I press towardthe mark for the prize” Philippians 3:13-14.
Life can be viewed within several contexts; some of these
perspectives are: a journey, a pathway, an experience, a tragedy,
a challenge, a failure, an action, or a success. Each of these views
carries an array of experiences that often leave personal
impressions. Invariably, the impressions are accompanied by
a judgment of acceptance or rejection; a feeling of happiness or
sadness, and an awareness of mastery or defeat.
This assessment of life is more pervasive at certain times of
the year and especially at school closing and graduation. That
period is the time when the reality of earlier actions are evaluated
and, hopefully, rewarded.
Since May is increasingly the month of school closings,
graduations, and college commencements, our sermon – in
commemoration of these academic events – has been entitled,
The Race and the Goal. The sermon is predicated on the

P. 2
assumption that academic study is a pattern of action like unto a
race and that the individual moves along in pursuit of the goal.
Further, it is herein submitted that the individual, or student,
evolved a pattern of study, established a time management system,
embraced a fiscally meager budget, and placed constraints on
social activities – all in pursuit of the goal, whether promotion or
graduation. Having gone through the academic maze for several
degrees, your pastor can attest to the fact that so often the pathway
seemed rough; the study demands seemed unbearable; the
instructors seemed inhumane; the semesters seemed never to end;
the term papers seemed excessive; and the projects seemed
irrelevant. Despite these ironies, the pastor – endured the race of
academe in pursuit of the goal which was higher education.
Accordingly, his challenge to students of today is to stay the course
-.i.e. to run the race of life in pursuit of the goal which is promotion
or graduation.
As earlier indicated, the sermon is entitled, The Race and the

p. 3
Goal.  It will be undergirded by the following inquiries, namely:
1. What is the aim, or goal?, 2. What is most important
requirement? and 3. What is a workable model?
As background on the textual basis of the sermon, attention
is called to the writer whose name was Paul. He wrote more books
of the Bible than any other author. He is often described as the
13th Apostle owing to his vision of Christ following the Master’s
ascension. St. Paul was a prolific writer, a gifted preacher, and
a successful church planner. He was responsible for the spread
of Christianity into the Gentile World. His letter to the Philippians
is the anchor for the textual basis of our sermon today. That letter
was written while Paul was in Nero’s prison and it reflected two
of his numerous experiences; they were his knowledge of the Greek
athletic events that involved racing and his reflections on
experiences as an Apostle. Thus, Paul talked about his life as a
race and he knew his goal. Yet amidst his race, Paul had faced
numerous hardship and disappointments. However, he refused to
allow the negative experiences of life to block his goal. Thus, Paul

p. 4
set forth his approach to the race as is found in the 3rd Chapter
of Philippians, verses 13 and 14.
Against this textual background, let us now turn to the
earlier identified questions, the first of which is – what is the goal?
The word, goal, denotes an object, idea, or accomplishment that
one is seeking to attain. It varies among people even within the
same household. One person, for example, might choose to pursue
a teaching career while another might choose to become a career
soldier. There are two threatening drawbacks to goal defining; they
are, first, parental over involvement in defining the child’s goal and,
and, secondly, superficially goal choosing by the child.
Unfortunately, these two problems have contributed to a track
record of failure for too many youngsters.
To offset the prospect of disillusionment of goal pursuit, the
individual must consider and utilize resources that include: books,
guidance counselors, conversations with persons in the area of
interest, and to make a critical examination of self in terms of

 

P. 5
requirements to attain the goal and demands in the fulfillment of
the goal. Following a clear definition of the goal, the person must
begin an ongoing series of actions necessary to accomplish the
goal. This fact leads to the second question of the sermon, which
is – what is the most important requirement to attain the goal?
Young people, specifically, and all others in general – the essential
requirement to successfully run any race is to stay focused. Saint
Paul was a past master in fulfilling this requirement as will be
seen in the third question of our sermon. With respect to our time,
however, there are many different sources of attractions that blur,
supercede, and even negate the ability to remain focused in
pursuit of a goal. Fortunately, Saint Paul did not have to confront
the television, the Internet, the movies, the DVD, the theme parks,
and have access to the automobile. Hence, it was easier for him to
stay focused than is it for persons of today where materialism
often overshadows spiritual values. While acknowledging the
desirability of fun, the sermon calls upon youngsters to prioritize

P. 6
their life – a task that includes: looking beyond dependency on
family, becoming qualified for gainful employment, acquiring a
commitment to render meaning service to society, making plans
for economic survival, and even thinking about how your life will
be viewed when you are no more. In this process of deliberation,
you must not become overly concerned about yourself in terms
of others with respect to dress, finance, popularity, or even
academic average.  Instead, you are called upon to remember that
God made you a bit different from all other persons. Hence, your
task to make sure that you are doing what God wants you to do
and pray that God will strengthen and direct you in the race toward
your goal. The prayers of George Washington Carver, according to
reports that may be legendary, were uttered with one content at
night and another in the morning. In the first prayer, he thanked
God for his activities of the day and at morning time he asked God
to show him further secrets in the peanuts, other seeds, and
minerals. Whether the account is true we can not determine, but
the history of his accomplishments clearly warrant concluding that
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he stayed focused.
Having examined the questions of aim and requirement in the
race toward the goal, the list question now surfaces; it is that of
a model. Admittedly, there are several different models, some of
which are socially acceptable and many are non approved by
society. There are, likewise, variation in the socially acceptable
models. Earlier mention was made of George Washington Carver
and sundry reference was made to the pastor. Although these
models were workable and yet contains relevance, the one
presented in our text will be submitted as applicable to all who
desire to be successful in the race. Let us, at this point, take a
look at Paul’s model for the race and the goal. It was first
important for Paul to forget about those things which are behind.
Among those past things can be harsh criticism, false accusations,
unfair treatment, denied opportunities, and numerous sacrifices.
Despite the discomfort of those experiences, like Paul, the
successful person must never belabor them. Instead, the individual
must seek to erase those thoughts from the mind. The model for
p. 8
endure the race, next, includes the act of reaching forth for those
things which are before. This acting of reaching forth must
exceed one’s arm length. It is, instead, the ability to visually pierce
the gloom of doubt and get a glimpse of success. Reaching forth,
further, entails the ability to endure limitations with the view of
greater self actualization at a future time. This process is known as
deferred gratification.  It requires self discipline and a clear vision
of better days ahead. The Holy Bible, in commenting on this act,
noted that “where there is no vision the people perish. Poetically,
the successful person, in reaching forth, must cultivate the ability
to climb the impossible mountain, dream the impossible dream,
swim the impossible sea, and tread the impossible pathway. In
so doing, the road may get ruff, the burden heavy, the enemies
numerous, the friends few, and the goal illusive; but the Christian
must rise to the final step in Paul’s model; it is that of pressing
on toward the mark of the prize. Paul is herein indicating his
determination to finish the race. Friends, he had been whipped,
ship wrecked, false accused, and was then in prison awaiting an
p. 9
unfair trial; yet Paul declared that he would press on toward the
mark of the prize.  For him, the prize was to be absent from the
body and present with the Lord. However, the current goal is
more earthly oriented: promotion, graduation, employment, money,
and thrills rather than being at home with the Lord. Yet it should
be mentioned, nonetheless, that the Bible does remind us that we
are earthly sojourners.  Therefore, it would be wise for us to engage
in a twofold race: one for earthly success and the other for eternal
existence with the Father. Amen.

On May 26, 2018  

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