I Keep on Forgetting

Read: Philippians 3:12-17

But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on. (vv. 13-14)

Paul does not use his imperfections as an excuse to stop growing spiritually. When he talks about “pressing on” he borrows a word from the world of the hunter. The verb means “to pursue” something, as you might if you were hunting deer. In his past, Paul’s zeal drove him to pursue and hunt down Christians. Now he is running after Christ, so that he can come to know Jesus in a deeper way and watch himself become less imperfect tomorrow than he is today.

In order to move forward, however, he has to do some backward forgetting (v. 13). The verb “forgetting,” as Paul uses it here, is in the present tense. That means Paul, even as he writes these words, is still in the process of deliberately forgetting his past from some 30 years earlier when he persecuted the church. Imagine, referencing a 30-year-old mistake and indicating you are still in the process of trying to forget it!

That happens to us, doesn’t it? The reality is that we really cannot forget our past entirely. What we bury is not forgotten. It is being denied or repressed. We cannot truly forget, but we can keep on forgetting, and keep on remembering that Christ has forgiven even that which we cannot forget. Paul’s past mistakes couldn’t trump God’s present forgiveness.

As you pray, ask God to keep reminding you of his ongoing forgiveness.

About the Author

David Walls is a pastor and writer who has served in ministry for more than 40 years.

This entry is part 28 of 31 in the series Philippians: To All the Saints