A Healthy Disregard for the Past

A Healthy Disregard for the Past

Forgetting what lies behind . . .
–Philippians 3:13

A successful game plan for living above your circumstances takes a healthy disregard for the past. Paul said in Philippians 3:13: “Forgetting what lies behind . . .”

Imagine a runner trying to run forward while at the same time looking back at the ground he’s already covered. What’s going to happen? He’s going to lose speed. He’s going to collide into another runner. He may stumble and fall. No runner can look behind him while attempting to make headway. It’s the same way in the Christian life. You cannot be looking backward if you’re looking forward. So Paul said, “If you’re going to succeed in your relationship with God, you’ve got to forget the things that are behind you.”

Was Paul talking about forgetting his past failures, or was he talking about forgetting his past accomplishments? I think the answer is both. To succeed in your relationship with God, first of all, you and I have to forget our past failures. The apostle Paul certainly had his share of failures. Before he was a Christian, he tortured and persecuted Christians. Can you imagine the flashbacks Paul must have had? After he became a Christian, Paul described his ongoing struggle with his sinful nature: “The good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want” (Romans 7:19). Can you relate to that? That was Paul’s experience. You may have your own share of failures. You were trying to make progress in your Christian life when all of a sudden Satan grabbed you and said, “Where do you think you’re going? You’re a sinner. Why do you think God would use you?” Satan loves to paralyze us with guilt. Yet Paul said, “If we’re going to make progress in our spiritual life, we have to forget our past failures.”

However, I think Paul also may have been thinking about his past accomplishments. In Philippians 3:4-6, Paul recounted all the good things he used to think would earn him a place in heaven. But then he said, “Whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ” (v. 7). Paul was saying that in order to move forward in your Christian life, you have to say good-bye to your past accomplishments.

Do you know Christians who are always living in the past? They’re trying to live off their salvation experience from decades ago. Or they keep going back to some past experience when God supernaturally intervened in their life. Paul was saying, “You have to put all that behind you if you’re going to move forward spiritually. Your relationship with God has to be new every day.” Jesus said it this way: “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). If you’re going to learn to live above your circumstances, you need to have a healthy disregard for the past.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Holy Sweat” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2007.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.