Phillippians 3:13-14 says, “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” This statement by Paul can be seen as a command in that Paul is telling us that we need to forget what is behind us and instead strive towards the prize which God has called us to.
Often we get bogged down by our mistakes that we have made in the past. We find ourselves at times brooding on our failures and mistakes. These can be anything from big sins to little things that you view as a failure or mistake. It could be as simple as watching a new movie on a sunny day, to something as complicated as breaking someone’s heart. Statements such as “What if I had just done that differently” or “I shouldn’t have done that” or “I wish I had done that” can cause grief, heartache, and pain to rise to the surface of our lives.
Yet Paul tells us not to dwell on these things. He invites us to move past them, to look towards the future. When we place our faith in Christ, His blood that was shed on the cross washes away all of our past mistakes and failures. For God has taken them from us, burying them in the depths of the sea. So why would you keep bringing them back up again? Instead through faith in Christ, we should choose to focus on what is ahead and strive to reach God’s prize.
This prize is the prize that awaits all who believe, the prize that Christ died for, the prize of life everlasting that awaits us in Heaven! For when we, through faith were reborn in Christ, He gave us the strength to no longer dwell on the past but instead to move forward trusting in Him alone. Paul is not saying in this verse to forget the past, but rather to move forward with Christ allowing Him guide us into the future. If we have Christ guiding us, if we are dwelling in God’s presence rather than our past mistakes, what use do we have for remembering our past mistakes? Thus we shouldn’t allow ourselves to get dragged down by what we have done in the past, but rather we need to move forward with joy past those mistakes and focus on His calling.
Paul in this statement is promising what happens when we forget the past. For he says that “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Through faith in God, not only are we able to move forward, but we will be able to push ourselves to win the prize that God has given us, that is life everlasting! For when we put aside the past, forgetting what troubles us, and look towards God’s future we are able to follow Christ’s call for us and win the prize He promised us. When we are no longer distracted by past mistakes and failures we are able to look to the future and strive towards something greater. This something greater is what Christ calls us to do, and that is to follow His example which is to serve the world with love and compassion. It is through following His example that we can receive the greater goal which God has called us to receive. Yet this can only be done by letting go of the past and putting our faith in God.
What will you do? Will you continue to hold onto the past and let it hold you back, always reminding you of your mistakes and failures? Or will you gain the strength from Christ that you need to let go of the past, to forget the past with its mistakes and failures and press forward towards the prize promised you? Will you allow Christ to lead you in your life, to guide you as you follow his example and love the world? Will you trust His design and plan, that you may experience joy and hope and one day claim the prize of life everlasting?
I press on toward the goal
to win the prize
for which God has called me heavenward
in Christ Jesus (Phil 3:14)