The Apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:13-14(NLT), “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.” In this passage and through Paul, God is giving us a mental strategy that is necessary to achieve His purpose. Heavenly Father makes it abundantly clear throughout His Word that He has given each of us a purpose. You and I exist because God created us, and He wants to have a relationship with us. Our purpose is so important because it is the instrument that God has chosen to determine our commitment to Him. Paul tells us that he knew he hadn’t yet achieved every aspect of his purpose, but he would continue pressing because nothing can compare to knowing you have pleased God. And nothing can compare to the prize we receive for answering His call.
Relationships are extremely important to God. We know this because His Word teaches it, and because, as His created children, relationships are extremely important to us. We adore those we’re close to. Our love for them and their love for us is all possible because of how God created us. He made us in His own image. And not only this, from the very beginning, He put a man and a woman together to establish a relationship between the two of them. Through their union, God so orchestrated their creation that when a man and a woman come together physically, their bond can make another human being possible. Heavenly Father established the structure of family through His creation of human beings, and through this family dynamic, God wants us to not only understand unity, but maintain it.
Ephesians 2:10(NLT) ought to be such a source of upliftment and inspiration to every believer. It says, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” God wants us to know that we are His finest work. He is so very pleased with His accomplishment of creating us. Even when we don’t behave as well as we should, and we turn our backs on Him, we are still a portrait of God’s brilliance on full display.
Paul understood this. He understood that it wasn’t all about him, because he had made a lot of mistakes. He had a past that none of us would want. Before he was converted, Paul had ordered the deaths and persecution of many believers of Jesus Christ. He could have gone down in history as one of the most terrible human beings that ever lived, but instead, he is arguably one of the most revered and respected believers of the Lord Jesus Christ in the New Testament. Paul could have made a different choice. He could have been utterly paralyzed by his past, but something within compelled him to press—to forget the horrible past and press ahead to reach the destiny God planned for him.
Our prior failings and poor choices of the past are evidence of God’s transforming power. Galatians 6:15(NLT) tells us, “It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation.” We are new creations in Jesus Christ, and because of this, we no longer have to be tied to the mistakes of the person we used to be. God’s mercies are new every morning, and we are blessed to live in newness, but this is up to us. We are the only ones that can make the choice to focus on one thing, which is to forget the past and remain sharply focused on what lies ahead.
The thing within Paul that compelled him to press ahead is the love of God. Paul elevated his love for God and his sense of commitment to God above the pain of his past. He put God first, and we must do the same. He was fully persuaded in the goodness of our Heavenly Father, and this is where many of us are struggling today. We are focusing on the bad that the devil is doing. Not only is this distracting us, but it is hurting our relationship with God because are not walking in faith. God has given us a way through Jesus Christ to elevate ourselves out of a mind-and-heart-set of darkness and gloom. Instead of letting our souls drop to the level of satan’s tricks, God tells us in Philippians 4:8(NLT), “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
We are commanded by God to reach, not just with our physical strength, but most importantly with our spiritual strength. God’s love is the greatest power in all the universe, forever and ever. We should let the goodness of His love be the power that compels us all to press ahead with faith and gratitude. God’s love increases in us when we forget all the mistakes, mishaps, and miseries of our past. The power of His love transforms us as we fix our thoughts on what is true, not on the lies of darkness.
We’re going to have to rally the courage and commitment to go above the murk and mire of negativity and doubt. This is true for your own personal life and it is true for how you view the world. Our Heavenly Father cannot fail. He doesn’t make mistakes. He is a redeeming God, and there isn’t anything that He can’t restore and make better than any of us has ever imagined. Paul points to the obvious truth that we can’t look back and look forward at the same time. God has a great future for each of us, and we need to spend every moment we can focusing on it by getting excited about what our wonderful God has in store. ■
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.
“Forgetting the Past, Getting Excited about the Future”, written for overcomingdomesticviolence.org©2023. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!