“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have attained this. Instead I am single-minded: Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead.”
Philippians 3:13 NET
Philippians 3:13 NET
3. Forgetting the things that are behind.
#4 Keep moving forward – don’t camp!
Many people have a tendency to resist change – which leads to ‘camping’. You may enjoy camping, but most of the fun in camping is that when it’s time to move camp, you move. There’s a temptation for us to camp where it’s comfortable, even if it’s hazardous. It may be because we are fearful of the unknown future and so we would rather hold onto the negative (and suffer) because we’re so familiar with it. Change isn’t always easy, but if it’s a God kind of change, it is for the best.
If you define yourself by your past failures and negative experiences, you’re limiting your potential and are preventing yourself from walking in your destiny. Regarding your sin, struggles, failures and mistakes: God has forgotten them (Psalm 103: 12; Hebrews 10:17) and so should you. What you did may have been stupid – but you are forgiven. Don’t allow the past to dictate your future. Regarding the negative circumstances that happened to you: your ability to choose how you respond to circumstances is greater than all of hell unleashed against you. It’s not about what happens to you, but how you choose to respond to it. Paul was beaten with rods and whips multiple times, stoned and left for dead, imprisoned many times, shipwrecked, and suffered hunger, cold, and nakedness all for the sake of the Gospel (2 Corinthians 11:23-30). Paul even referred to all his sufferings as light affliction (2 Corinthians 4:17). None of that is pleasant, but it never stopped him from making a significant impact in history for Jesus. Many people in our society are depressed because of problems which are insignificant in comparison to what Paul experienced, and yet Paul never suffered with depression. He wasn’t depressed. In fact he wrote one of the happiest books in the Bible (Philippians) while he was in prison for his faith, and he was encouraging the believers outside of prison to “rejoice in the Lord, always!”. Paul wasn’t a victim of the bad things which happened to him, and you don’t have to be either.
“…I am single-minded: Forgetting the things that are behind…”
Paul didn’t specify that he was forgetting only the negative things that were in his past – I believe that he also had to let go of the good too. I don’t think it was that he had to forget them completely, because the Bible says that it’s a godly thing to remember the good things in our lives. I believe that Paul chose not to hold on to his past successes and accomplishments, nor to allow them to define him. When we accomplish or experience something great, we should celebrate and enjoy it, but we need to build on those experiences and accomplishments and keep moving forward. It’s like the group of older people in a church which experienced “revival” a few years back and haven’t stopped talking about it since: they still live in the joy of what happened decades ago, when God wants to do something new today. A similar thing happened with Jesus’ disciples: Jesus took Peter, James and John with him up a mountain where He had a supernatural meeting with Moses and Elijah (Matthew 17). This resulted in Jesus and His clothes shining with God’s glory. Peter wanted to camp there, and most of us would have wanted to as well. Peter even wanted to build three tabernacles in honour of this encounter, and to help prolong it, I am sure. The amazing thing is that Jesus didn’t allow them to camp there (nor did He allow them to tell anyone until after the resurrection) and He led them down the mountain (Matthew 17:9). They had a mission to continue and Jesus wasn’t going to allow them to be in limbo just because of a great experience.
If you define yourself by your past successes and positive experiences, you’re limiting your potential and you are preventing yourself from moving forward into more of your destiny. Regardless of how good it was, there is always more. Don’t allow the past (no matter how good it was) to dictate your future. Build on the good in your past and keep moving forward.