Scripture: Philippians 3:12 Not that I have already obtained this (resurrection from the dead) or have already reached the goal (of being like Jesus); but… this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
Observation: Since the apostle Paul had already accomplished so much in his ministry, it would have been easy for him to suggest that he had “arrived”, or that his ministry was “complete”. It was not. His goal was nothing short of sharing in the death of Christ so that he might be raised up with Christ.
Application: The words that grab me this morning are “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead…”. Yes, Paul had already achieved much by the time he wrote this, but remember that before Paul was called as an apostle for the gospel, he was a pharisee named Saul. He was a persecutor of Christians, something he never forgot. He was not proud of that history, but was grateful he had been given a new life in Christ Jesus.
Lots of us have a bit of a checkered past. We’ve made mistakes. We’ve hurt people. We have regrets. We’ve disappointed others – even ourselves. I’ve made far too many mistakes to mention here, but I’m guessing you understand. While this is perfectly normal, the problem is that our past can define us if we’re not careful. The past can become a prison from which there is no escape.
Jesus changed all that.
In Jesus Christ, we have a new identity. Rather than disappointing screw-ups, we are children of God. We live for the praise of the Father, not of other people. That is a freeing realization my sisters and brothers.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for the new life you make available to us in Jesus. I pray especially this morning for those who are trapped in the sins of the past. Lord, give them a total life make-over. Give them grace to follow after you, through your son Jesus Christ – in whose name we pray. Amen.