Philippians 3:12-14, NASB
12) Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.
13) Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,
14) I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
-Paul was not perfect!
-we cannot hold onto the past, rather we must reach for that which lies ahead of us.
God has much to say to us through these words that Paul penned so long ago. Paul reminds us that the battle continues, the race is still on. It seems to come in three stages. The first thing we need to do is forget what lies behind. In my current frame of reference I have some recent failures I would like to forget...though there is some value in remembering just enough to avoid the same mistakes in the future. I think his statement embodies more than our past sins however, living only in past successes is not any healthier if we are to continue to be conformed to the image of Christ. Can you imagine the Lord saying, "Well, that was a really good day yesterday, the lame are walking, the blind can see, the multitude was fed...yes, I think I have done enough." Jesus was always looking ahead, always "reaching forward."
That is the next thing we need to do, reach forward. What am I going to do for the Lord today? How can I love more? How can I show more kindness?
(Is it terrible of me to rejoice that Paul was not perfect? I just found that so encouraging today. I am so far from perfect, so far from laying hold of the prize that Paul so often reminds us of. I am not very good at forgetting the past; I still blush at some of my blunders from grade school when I think about them. The me of the past is not who I am in Christ today. The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23, NASB How grateful I continue to be for this wonderful truth.)
Finally we come to the third part of Paul's encouragement..."press on." This is that idea of striving towards something. For the believer it is the prize of the call of God, that day when we will at last be with Him in heaven. Let's not kid ourselves, the task is not easy. There truly is a spiritual battle raging. Yes, Christ has won, but the enemy has not laid down his arms yet. Paul is telling us that we cannot ease up. We have to do everything we can to stay in shape for the battle. I fare poorly when I do not spend daily time in God's Word. I trip and stumble when His Word is not lighting my way, when I neglect to put on the armor He has provided. We cannot allow ourselves to sit in our comfy chairs and be content with what we have already gained, the big prize is still out there in front of us. Press on is the phrase of the day.
I am at a point in life where looking back is going to be hard to resist. My sons are moving away. This weekend I dropped off my youngest to catch a flight to Germany. My home is about to change dramatically. I can see myself longing for the days when they were younger and needed me around. My task is, for the most part, complete when it comes to raising them. But God has more for me to do. (I have always loved those words when I come across them in the Bible: But God.) Something new is about to begin and I can look ahead and press on or live on memories and long for the return of something that just cannot be. That is the choice before me.
The photo I snapped is my visual reminder today that the past lies within the confines of the walls of this historic building; I need to step through the door into the bright and precious future Christ has prepared for me. I need to walk out the door and see what it is I need to get busy with today.
Does the burden of your sins keep you from pressing on the way Paul encourages in these verses? Do you face each new day looking forward to what God wants you to do with it or our you living in past accomplishments? Are you looking ahead or looking back?
(We did a wonderful study of the armor of God in Ephesians last year and I do hope to have that resource available to you in the fall. In the meantime you might enjoy reading my past posts on the subject which can still be found at the old website for the time being http://www.tuningmyheart.com/2012/04/armor-of-god.html, http://www.tuningmyheart.com/2012/04/take-up-full-armor-of-god.html, http://www.tuningmyheart.com/2012/04/girding-your-loins-with-truth.html, http://www.tuningmyheart.com/2012/05/breastplate-of-righteousness.html)
I am a woman with a Mary heart and these are my musings as I read and study God's Word
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