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Devotional - week of June 20, 2004


FORGETTING THE PAST

Brethren, … one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind … I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:13-14

In Philippians 3:13 Paul indicates that he has reduced his desire in life to one thing. In Philippians 3:10-11 he expresses that desire. It is living continually in the heavenlies. In Philippians 3:14 Paul describes living in the heavenlies as “the prize of the upward call.”  

In Philippians 3:13 Paul indicates that in order to realize his desire he must forget the things of the past.

Paul is not thinking of the thoughts and actions of the past being erased from his memory. He is thinking of forgetting in the sense of not permitting the past to hinder his spiritual desire to live in the heavenlies.

While there may be a number of things in our memory about the past that could hinder our spiritual growth, two things seem to be the most prevalent.

One hindrance is for past spiritual successes to so fill our minds that we lose the desire for possible spiritual growth in the present and in the future.

Perhaps a more devastating hindrance to our spiritual growth is continual thoughts of foolish and sinful things from our past days.

Suppose someone goes to a friend or family member with a deep sense of regret and repentance for some sin against that person. Then the offended one says, “I accept your apology. Now forget it.” He is not saying the sinful acts should be erased from memory. He is saying, “Your sinful act will in no way affect our relationship.”

When we confess our sins to God, He forgives us. And He does not want our sins and foolish acts of the past to hinder our spiritual growth now or in the present and future.

In fact, God can use spiritual failures of our past to reveal to us our need to change and to increase our passion for spiritual growth in the present and future.