Put It Behind You
Read Philippians 3:12–4:1
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you. But we must hold on to the progress we have already made.
Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example. For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ.
Paul’s goal was to know Christ, to be like Christ, and to be all Christ has in mind for him. This goal absorbed all of Paul’s energy. Paul gave up everything—family, friendship, and freedom—in order to know Christ and his resurrection power. He had reason to forget what was behind—he had held the coats of those who stoned Stephen, the first Christian martyr (Acts 7:57-58; Paul is called Saul there), and zealously sought to end the movement known as “the Way.” But God called Paul to his way.
We have all done things for which we are ashamed, and we live in the tension of what we have been and what we want to be. Because our hope is in Christ, however, we can let go of past guilt and look forward to what God will help us become.
With the single-mindedness of an athlete in training, we must lay aside everything harmful and forsake anything that may distract us from being effective Christians. What, if anything, is holding you back? Don’t dwell on your past. Instead, grow in the knowledge of God by concentrating on your relationship with him now. Realize that you are forgiven and loved, and then move on to a life of faith and obedience. Look forward to a fuller and more meaningful life because of your hope in Christ.