Summary: Discussion of Philippians 3:12-14.
Moving on from the Past
September 20, 2009
NOTE: THE ME/WE/GOD/YOU/WE FORMAT IS FROM ANDY STANLEY’S BOOK, "COMMUNICATING FOR A CHANGE."
Me: As was made painfully obvious last Sunday, I recently had a birthday.
I turned 45 on September 11th.
One of the things I find myself doing from time to time, and maybe a little bit more as I get a little bit older, is looking back and wondering if I’ve done anything of consequence up to this point.
Have I done anything that says I’ve made a difference, especially in the lives of my family. A positive difference, that is.
We: I think all of us would like to look back and hope we see something we can hang our hat on and smile.
We all hope that we find some successes, no matter how small, just so we can look back and not think our lives are a total waste.
But while we’re looking for successes, you know what else pops up, don’t you? Our failures.
We’ve all had them, we’ll all have some more.
Some of us, including myself, have had some colossal failures.
Isn’t it amazing how those come to our memories, even easier than the successes?
Folks, it’s good that we can remember our successes and failures, because we can be encouraged by both.
Because even our failures are used by God to teach us lessons and to make us more like Jesus.
But did you know that as important as our past is, it’s not supposed to define who we are, at least not in terms of our life in Christ and our service to Him.
God: Paul discusses that in this passage of Scripture for today.
Paul had a past, just like you and I do – he had stuff he could brag about and stuff he was ashamed of, just like you and I do.
But as we find out here, he did not let it determine who he was in Christ, and he didn’t let it determine his usefulness for the Kingdom.
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Paul says, “I press on.”
I’m not the sharpest lightbulb in the toolbox, but one thing I’ve learned is that when Scripture repeats something, especially in a short span like this, it’s probably something we should listen to.
God is telling us something here through Paul.
So let’s look at what Paul is trying to stress.
He starts off by saying that he hadn’t “obtained all this.” What is “all this”? Back in verse 10 he lists it out:
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
He says that He hadn’t reached the level of intimate relationship with Jesus that he really wants. And he’s pressing on the take hold of that.
He wants it so bad that he’s willing to consider all his past accomplishments and failures as garbage in comparison.
I’d say he wants it pretty bad.
It would be great if everyone wanted that closeness with Christ that badly. But you know what? I don’t always want it that badly.
There are times when I let other things get in the way, I don’t press on like I should.
We all have records in our memory banks.
There are a couple records that can get in the way from us pressing on and getting that close to Jesus, and Paul had to let both of them go, just like we do.
In verse 13 he uses a key phrase: “Forgetting what is behind…”
That doesn’t mean he has some sort of mental lapse and actually forgets that stuff like most people forget where they put their car keys.
It means that he chooses to not dwell on your record of these things, and he chooses to not let them define who he is as a person who wants to follow Christ.
One of the records that can get in the way of a person being as close to Christ as they can be is…
* A record of failures.
Paul had a few of these, but the biggest was his persecution of the Christians early on.
I can imagine that he spent many days and nights over the years remembering that.