“But one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead” — Philippians 3:13b
Have you ever had someone tell you to “Forget about it?” How’d that work out for you? Usually forgetfulness is a non-voluntary thing that takes place and can cause anxiety when it occurs. We go through a wide variety of exercises to ensure that we don’t forget.
I think most of us would agree that there are a number of things we wish we could forget – that is what I think the Apostle Paul is trying to express, but how?
The reason I usually forget something is because I become occupied with something else that, if I’m honest, is more important to me at the time. When I look at the pattern that I see in chapter 3 of Philippians I can follow the example that will cause me to focus on what should be more important. I see the aim as being what is stated in verse 3, “and have no confidence in the flesh”. There seems to be a connection to past hurts and disappointments that fuels the flesh, when I’m in my own head I tend to be tormented by the past, “those things which are behind.” If I’m to forget about the unproductive past it will have to be a work of the Spirit, so as Paul would write to the Galatians, “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”
The recipe for walking in the Spirit is laid out for us, “Rejoice!” Over and over we are told to “Rejoice in the Lord.” I’m willing to bet the best way to forget about the negative past is to focus on the goodness of God. When I stop looking horizontally and begin to look vertically, the bad past is no longer on the forefront of my mind. I’m now able to walk circumspectly (Ephesians 5:15), not tripping over my past.
Next he says, “Beware.” Beware of evil and legalism, and live in the grace of God. I must forget my own understanding that is based on the past and focus on the wisdom from above. Too many times I’ve gotten bad advice based on someone’s past experiences, referencing on past performances instead of seeking the Lord. I must make sure that my decisions are based on Biblical facts instead of my prior experiences.
Of course we have to use sound judgement and learn from past mistakes, but I think the focus here is the haunting past that keeps us from becoming who God wants us to be. I can’t let a disappointment prevent me from trusting again, building a wall to protect me from getting hurt also keeps me in seclusion.
So the next time someone tells you, “Forget about it,” and we really should forget about it, then turn to Philippians 3 and take it from Paul. Amen!
Written by Rob Russomano: Rob Russomano is married to Terri, and serves with her as full time staff members. He is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and is also available as a speaker of the grace of God with a message of Hope for church events. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Daily Quote: “We should not look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dearly bought experience.” – George Washington
This Week’s Verse to Memorize:
Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the Lord. Psalm 31:24