Running from the past—not an idea you would expect the Bible to support. But that is precisely the Apostle Paul’s plan to grow in his relationship with Jesus. Using the metaphor of a foot race, Paul says he is running today towards tomorrow and forgetting the past.
“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.” Philippians 3:13
Two things must be avoided from yesterday as we run today in faith. First, we must forget the condemnation that comes from religious failure. This was the Apostle Paul’s story. He was arguably the most religious man included in the pages of the Bible (see Philippians 3:4–9). And his most pious efforts got him nowhere closer towards the prize of knowing Jesus. Instead, they completely disqualified him. We too must forget the failure from the past that resulted from doing more and trying harder in our own strength to win God’s approval.
Second, we must avoid the complacency that is dangerously lurking in the bushes along the path known as righteousness by faith. The Bible warns us many times of the risk associated with pursuing a God who pursued us first. We can take advantage of his good grace. Paul warns us about this pitfall (Romans 6:1, Philippians 3:15). So does James (James 2:18–19). Jesus even confronts an entire church over this issue (Revelation 2:4–5). We must see the stark contrast between resting in Jesus and resting on our laurels with each and every new stride along this race called life.
By faith, we will be straining and striving to know Jesus more personally, more fully, and more completely.
What Are You Running Toward?
The Apostle Paul’s objective isn’t first moral perfection. He is running toward a perfect experiential knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:8, 14). So as we forget the past in running today toward tomorrow, we aren’t working to prove ourselves to Jesus. But we are leaving behind condemnation and complacency through repentant forgetfulness. And by faith, we will be straining and striving to know Jesus more personally, more fully, and more completely. And his love for us is the energy that drives us forward.
- What things that have brought me condemnation in the past do I need to forget by faith today?
- Where do I need to repent of complacency in my relationship with Jesus?
- How can I seek to know Jesus more fully today by believing he wants to be known by me?
Dave Bruskas is the network pastor for Mars Hill.