Deeper: Forgetting What is Behind

“Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 3:13-14

Paul’s faith never ceases to amaze me.

Not only was he arguably the greatest of the apostles, spent his life as the first missionary to the Gentile world, wrote a good portion of the New Testament, traveled the world, started churches in places where people worshipped statues of false gods, endured hardship, torture, beatings, persecution, shipwreck, imprisonment, and even resistance from other believers, but he also strove to gain everything Christ had for him.

Paul. The man who did more for the faith than any other individual, strove for more.

More of His presence.
More of His purposes.
More of…Him.

And in his letter to the believers in Philippi, he lays out what he did to gain more:

Forgetting what is behind. Striving toward what is ahead.

Paul knew that there was only one thing that could hinder him from more of God. One thing that could stop him, delay him and cause him to hesitate in asking God to do something more, something greater:

His past.

Paul was a Pharisee. A follower of the law. He persecuted Christians, dragged them into the streets and stood there as they were stoned to death. He imprisoned them, beat them and even had their blood on his own hands. He looked down on others, thought himself holy and did all he could to remind people where they failed.

Paul had a pretty sordid past.
And he could have let it stop him.

He could have been afraid to come into God’s presence. He could have replayed the mistakes he made in his head over and over again. He could have beat himself up, allowed guilt to tell him he wasn’t good enough and never tried to help others grow. He could have wallowed in his guilt, felt insecure in his calling, and never achieved what God had called him to do.

He could have let his past stop him.
But he didn’t.

Because he knew that in order to move forward with the things God had for him, in order to impact lives and make a difference and achieve all God had for him…

…he had to let his past go.

Admit what he did.
Forgive himself.
And then forget it.

He did not allow his past to define him, to dictate the man he was in that moment. He wasn’t hindered by the mistakes he made, the sins he committed or the life he used to live.

He was a new creation.

He also didn’t rest on his past successes. Starting a new church, reaching new people and enduring more persecution didn’t stop him from wanting more of God. He didn’t allow a past revelation of God to feed him for months. Or weeks. Or even days.

He wanted something more.

And the only thing that could stop him, the only thing that can stop us, is dwelling on our past successes and failures.

You are not your past.
You are a new creation.

Do not allow the mistakes you’ve made, the successes you’ve had or the person you used to be stop you from becoming all God wants you to be.

Because He doesn’t define you by your past.

And so, my brothers and sisters, as you push forward in all God has for you, may you remember that you are not your past. May you never allow your past mistakes or successes to stop you from pursuing more of God. And may you, as you forget what is behind and strive toward what is ahead, find that God has something much bigger, much greater for you than you could ever have imagined.

How has your past hindered you from pursuing God?

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