The Joy of Forgetting

Note: Today’s reading is Philippians 3. Tomorrow we’ll close out Philippians and Wednesday I’m excited to start the book of Hebrews! 


There are days when I become consumed by the “what ifs”. “What if I had said that with more grace.” “What if I had not done this.” “What if I had done that.” “What I had made this better decision.” What if…What if….What if…

Paul encourages us to move on from getting hung up in the “what ifs” of life in Philippians 3:

“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, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

– Philippians 3:13-14 ESV

It isn’t wrong to realize past mistakes. As Christians, we have to understand that our sinfulness will at times lead to regrets in our past. We shouldn’t just ignore that reality. But the gospel of grace allows us to keep going even in light of our darkest moments. There are three reasons we must embrace this joyful discipline of forgetting past failures.

The Sovereignty of God

There may be many things we can say about “what lies behind,” but one thing is for certain, it was never a surprise to God. “Our God is in heaven, he does all that he pleases (Ps. 115:3).” With repentance, we recognize that our pasts are littered with mistakes, yet we also realize that where we have been is part of a plan of God to send us where we are going. For those who love God and are called according to his purposes, all things, even our failures, work together for good (Rom. 8:28). As we trust his sovereign rule, we learn the joy of forgetting.

The Cross of Jesus

We are able to forget our failures because we know the good news of the gospel is that God is forgetting them too. “That is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them (2 Cor. 5:19a).” The beauty of the gospel is that our failures have been covered by the blood of Jesus. If God is not counting my sins against me, then I should not sit around counting my sins against myself. Repentance is always forward looking.  Yes we recognize our sin daily. Sometimes we must even look back and see the sin of our more distant past. But this is only so that we can turn from that sin and press on.

The Spirit Empowered Mission


Finally, we forget what lies behind because the “upward call of God in Christ Jesus” is too great for us to be paralyzed by our pasts. God has called us his own and called us towards mission. His kingdom is expanded as we herald the good news of redemption in Jesus Christ through our lives. It’s really hard to forget something you are trying to forget isn’t it? Thankfully, we don’t “forget what lies behind” by thinking about it. We forget by running ahead.

Entrust your past, even the failures, to the mighty hand of a sovereign God. Trust the great work of redemption Christ has done on your behalf. Then live out your mission in the strength of his grace. This is true for the moments where we look back and say, “what if,” and it is true for moments where we look back and say “look what I did.” Our worst days are covered in grace, our best days our only by his grace, so lets look to Jesus and press on!

God bless!

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