Philippians is one of my favorite books of the Bible. Like many of Paul’s writings, it provides the human perspective to Jesus’ teachings and describes what it is we are supposed to be doing. Today the Bible opened here again:
It is not that I have already taken hold of it or have already attained perfect maturity,* but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ [Jesus]. Brothers, I for my part do not consider myself to have taken possession. Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus. Let us, then, who are “perfectly mature” adopt this attitude. And if you have a different attitude, this too God will reveal to you. Only, with regard to what we have attained, continue on the same course.
Join with others in being imitators of me, brothers, and observe those who thus conduct themselves according to the model you have in us. For many, as I have often told you and now tell you even in tears, conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction. Their God is their stomach; their glory is in their “shame.” Their minds are occupied with earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself.
My eyes are drawn to this line: “Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.” I have read this passage many times before, but I don’t think I ever paid attention to it. What a great reminder of how we must live. Every day we have to wake up and forget about what lies behind — the mistakes we have made, our sins and transgressions. We have to put them behind us, because God does. God forgives us. Instead we must strain forward, lean in — all in — to what lies in front of us — God’s upward calling. Just like we are all taught as children, we have to get back on the bike when we fall off (and we fall off daily). Get back on and keep pedaling toward Christ. We can do that. Forget about the past and lean, strain, toward God. Each day we can choose to wake up and do this — this is the attitude we need. And each day, even though we fail, we will get a step closer to God.
I know you have great things planned for us. Thank you for your grace and mercy when we fail. Help us to let go of our transgressions and mistakes. Help us to keep straining in the right direction.