Philippians 3:12-21

Citizens of Heaven

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:20

Heaven is our home. How does that truth affect the way we approach our responsibilities and relationships each day? Do we awaken each morning thinking of the eternal, or are we so entangled with earthly concerns that we forget our citizenship is in heaven?

In Philippians 3:12-21, Paul explained how a heavenly perspective influenced his daily routine. Three times in verses 12-14, he used the image of a runner pressing on and straining toward a finish line. Imprisonment was not going to keep Paul from completing the race God had compelled him to run: carrying the gospel to “the Gentiles and their kings and … the people of Israel” (Acts 9:15).

In verses 15-16, Paul told the Philippians that a heavenly mindset is characteristic of those who are spiritually mature. They focus on the gospel and on spiritual growth. They are not distracted by “earthly things”—attitudes and actions that gratify sinful desires or self-centered ambitions (v. 19).

It is all too easy to become earthbound—weighed down by violence in the world and by upheaval in our personal lives. But God has called us to lay aside those weights, those earthly entanglements, so we can “run with perseverance the race that has been marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:2). We are homeward bound. Heaven bound.

Those who focus on the eternal see themselves as citizens of heaven. They conduct themselves as if they were already living there—pursuing mercy, peace, and righteousness as Jesus described in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3-12).  Since they eagerly await the return of their Savior, Jesus Christ, they want to make sure they’re investing their lives in endeavors that have everlasting ramifications—spreading the gospel, promoting unity in the church, encouraging one another, and testifying of the work God is doing in their lives.

How different our day would be if we awakened each morning with this mindset: I’m almost home. Just a little further. Maybe today I’ll see Jesus face to face.

Like Paul, let’s commit ourselves to “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called [us] heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).  Let’s live like we’re heaven bound.


In verse 13, Paul says, “one thing I do.” What was that one thing? Consider the “one thing” David pursued in Psalm 27:4 and the “one thing” Jesus emphasized in Luke 10:41-42. What commonalities exist among those three desires?

What “prize” is Paul talking about in verse 14?  Read 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, then Revelation 2:10.

To understand more fully the difference between “earthly things” and “heavenly things,” read Colossians 3:1-17. In what areas of your life do you need to exchange earthly interests for heavenly ones?

Are you eagerly awaiting the return of your Savior? Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and then “encourage each other with these words.”

 Denise K. Loock

Leave a Comment