Daily Devotional

"Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.  13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 3:12-14

At the risk of being overly simplistic, imagine everyone in the world fit into one of three categories: those who dwell on the past… those who live in the present… and those who focus on the future.

Although those categories are completely unbiblical (I made them up), I do think people have a tendency to gravitate to one primary “default mode” or way of looking at their life.  For example, I’m wired with a future-orientation.  I continually anticipate outcomes and try to ensure successful results through diligent planning and preparation.  Others have the gift of going with the flow.  They are able to enjoy living in the moment… at the risk of drifting wherever the wind happens to blow them.  Others are anchored to their past, driven and motivated by a profound or painful event that directs their course.

In reality, I think the most-healthy people are able to maintain a balance between all three of those perspectives on life.  

If anyone could have been crippled by their past, it was the Apostle Paul.  But he came to the place where he made a conscious decision not to dwell it.  This doesn’t mean Paul had a memory wipe.  His letters are filled with candid memories of his former life.  And that brings up an important point.  One reason we should look back is so we don’t forget our testimony.  Who were we when God reached into our life and saved us?  What did he save us from?  How did he change us?  1 Samuel 12:24 reminds us to “consider what great things God has done for you.” That’s a great reason for remembering the past.  But ultimately Paul didn’t allow it to shape his future.  

I think Paul was the kind of guy who could rest in the grace of God and enjoy living in the present.  But he was also fiercely committed to pursing the future.  He knew he wasn’t perfect, but he didn’t use that as an excuse to stop growing in the present.

He uses verbs like “press on,” “lay hold of,” and “reaching forward,” like a runner straining ahead and stretching out to cross the finish line.  

Why did that matter so much to Paul? Because he wanted to lay hold of the prize of being with Christ, of stepping into the glory of heaven and hearing the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant… enter into the joy of your Master” (Mt 25:23).  

My prayer today is that we are able to find a healthy balance between living in the past, the present and the future.  
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
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