Philippians 4:13 “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Do you want to know a good way to handicap your future? Get stuck in the past.
|Photo courtesy of Aunt Catherine Meekins|
It is easy to dwell on past mistakes so deeply that it is hard to move forward in life. The weight of regret can so encumber a person that they find themselves sinking into a quicksand pit of guilt and sorrow. As one wrestles with thoughts of a failed past, the feelings continue to grow stronger until there seems no way to become free. But there is a way to move forward.
Paul stated it well in Philippians 4. He made it his practice to forget what lay behind him and to reach forward to what lay ahead. He had spent his young years seeking to please God by obeying the law given by Moses. He had striven to follow every detail as he understood it to be and in so doing believed himself to be righteous in God’s sight. He so misunderstood the purpose of the law that he severely persecuted those who had come to know that true righteousness only comes through faith in God’s Son, Jesus Christ.
I would imagine that, after God revealed the truth of Paul’s error to him, Paul had terrible feelings of regret for his prideful attitude and the horrors that he had inflicted on those who were now his brothers and sisters in Christ. These thoughts may have been too much to bear, but Paul knew how to keep them from handicapping him. He recognized that God had a purpose in all things. He accepted the forgiveness that God offered, and set his focus on knowing Jesus Christ. He finally understood that he was not righteous on his own, but only as a gift of God on the basis of faith.
Paul served his Savior for the rest of his life with the same passion with which he had persecuted other believers. He shared with his Philippian disciples, “I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Paul refused to get stuck in his past. He put it behind him and moved forward confidently with a new goal in life – knowing Christ and the power of His resurrection, sharing in His sufferings, and preaching to all he met the forgiveness and new life available in Christ. His present focus anticipated future growth and reward for godly service. At the end of his life he did not even mention his past mistakes. Before his death he was able to state to his disciple, Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7),
What should we do when past mistakes threaten to handicap our future? Follow Paul’s example. Ask for God’s forgiveness and then forget what lies behind. Press on toward the goal of knowing Christ and serving Him. There’s a bright future ahead!