“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” – Philippians 3:13-14.
In Philippians 3, Paul was clearly looking forward rather than dwelling on the past. But that doesn’t mean that Paul had suddenly developed amnesia in the Roman jail. He clearly understood his past and had not forgotten the man he once was, but he did not let his past discourage him or defeat him. He was determined to press on and to keep running the race. Paul was focused on eternity and what awaited him at the end of his life.
We are accustomed to viewing our lives in the order of “past, present, future.” The Bible suggests we should view time as flowing from the future into the present and then into the past. The believer should be future-oriented, “forgetting the past.”
I often wonder if we realize just how mired down in the here and now we have become. Sometimes it’s dark and scary and you’re fumbling around because you feel like you have lost control allowing all kinds of noise and potholes in our lives. Things like broken relationships, money problems, illnesses, and so on. None of those things will matter in eternity. What will matter is whether we lived lives that pleased God.
Paul was completely focused on just that. He was pressing toward the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Paul uses the image of a race to describe the Christian life. In verse 12 Paul says, “I press on.” In verse 14 he says, “I press on to reach the end of the race” The idea of the word press is to run swiftly in order to catch a person or thing, to run after. Pressing when running means that you have to give it a little more effort in order to overtake another runner. Basically you are running, not just for the exercise, but with a specific goal and purpose in mind. A runner who keeps his or her “eyes on the prize” will stay on track.
Maybe somewhere for some reason you lost your joy or passion for running. Perhaps you stumbled and fell, or maybe you just got tired and decided to take a break. If you’re temporarily sitting on the sidelines, I encourage you to get back in the race. There’s a Savior to serve and a prize of an eternity with Him to be won.
1. How well are you running the race? Faith is just the beginning of the race we run as Christians. How can we better exercise our faith and put it into practice?
2. How can we start thinking future, present, past rather than the current order of past, present and future?