Philippians 3:13-14 – Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (KJV)
These two Scripture verses hold great truths for each of us as we enter a new year. Each New Year's Day, people around the world resolve to change certain aspects of their lives, like getting back in shape, giving up smoking, or going to church more. Nearly all of these resolutions have one fatal flaw: the past. We promise ourselves that we will do, or not do, something different than we did last year.
In today's verse, Paul tells us to "forget those things which are behind." Not until we put the past completely behind us can we ever hope to attain any new goals in our lives. This is because we are constantly comparing our actions to those in the past, and not to the true goal we would really like to attain. The rationalizations sound like, "I am working out once a week, and after all, I did not work out at all last year," or "I am only smoking a pack a day instead of the two that I used to smoke," or "I am only missing two Sundays a month instead of three or four."
The key to making a real difference in our lives is revealed by Paul in verse 14 when he says, "I press toward the mark for the prize," the key word being "mark". In order to make a true and lasting change in our lives, we must first forget where we have been in the past, and then establish a mark or a goal that we wish to achieve.
Once we have set our goal, let us press on, and strive for the goal, not looking back to see how far we have come, but always looking forward to see how far we have to go. For runners in a race, the best motivation comes not from looking back at the starting blocks, but looking forward at the tape they must cross in order to win the race.
For those of us who are business people, we can apply these same ideals to our businesses or jobs in the coming year. So often, we will hear someone say, "Let's not forget what got us to where we are today." Indeed, we should not forget the ideals, values, and practices that contributed to our past success. But our challenge is to forget about the successes of the past year, or the big deals that were closed, and establish new, higher goals for the coming year.
Prayer: Loving God, help each of us to establish goals which take us beyond where we have been in the past, but which are still attainable in the future. We ask you to be our guide and strength, and help us to focus on the ultimate prize of which Paul spoke, Christ Jesus. Amen.