Forgetting Those Things Left Behind
Paul wrote, “Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things ahead, I press on toward the mark of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:13-14).
First, Paul’s not saying he forgot the past or stop learning from it. In fact, some nine or ten times he refers back to his time as a persecutor of The Way. He never forgot what he did to those who were Christians. He also never stopped learning from that time in his life when he did those things. Further, there were those who would never let him forget: Judaizers who were all the more fervent to pursue him and put him to death.
When Paul said “forgetting those things behind,” he means that he is no longer influenced by his past life as a Hebrew of Hebrews and Pharisee of Pharisees. He might recount his history and life as a Jew, but now as a Christian all those things he once counted as gain he counts as loss. He is no longer influenced by them.
Remembering our past is good to a point. It can help us learn from our mistakes. Our past can remind us of what we once were, and remind us why we don’t want to go back to that way of life–ever. There are also some who will never let us forget the mistakes of our past. However, as with Paul, there comes a time when the past is the past. We cannot change or undo what has been done. All we can do is reach forward.
The past can move us to urgently seek something better and serve One who is greater. Reaching forward becomes the driving passion, not the past. Yes, we sinned–but we have been forgiven. Yes, we messed up and used bad judgment, but now we are growing wiser and learning more all the time.
What can we learn from our past? Where are we growing? Whatever our past, the future is brighter and more pressing. So let us not be overburdened by the past, look to the future, and hope for the city whose builder and maker is God.