“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
There is a time for remembering and a time for forgetting. The Bible gives us examples of both. It is important to consider the verses before the two in our text above to understand what Paul is saying. He states, “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things” (verse 8). Paul is making the point that no earthy accomplishment (his past as an accomplished Pharisee etc.) compares with Christ, His righteousness, and the salvation He had given him. Therefore, he puts his past behind him to strain toward (pursue with vigor as one following the prize in a race) his relationship with Christ and his work for His kingdom.
Regardless of how good or bad we have been, we all come to Christ the same way: with a humble and repentant heart. And we all come with a multitude of memories stored in our brains since birth. But Paul is not saying to completely wipe away those memories when he states, “forgetting what is behind”. He is saying that we need to leave our failures in the past, know they are forgiven, learn from them, and then move forward in your walk with God. Once we have experienced this reality that Paul points out here, then we are in a position to help others who may be paralyzed with their past. We can help them experience this great freedom so they also can move forward in their walk with Christ. It is a true joy to be used by God in this way!
Recall something from your past that you once held in high regard until you came to know Christ. Is there anything you are holding on to from your past that the Lord wants you to let go of? Is there someone you know who is really struggling with their past and needs your help?