“Brothers, 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.”
– Philippians 3:13-14
Tomorrow is the beginning of a New Year — 2021! This is the time when people set goals for the coming year, but it’s also a time when people look back at the prior year to see what they achieved. However, often when people look back at their lives, they tend to remember more the choices and decisions that led to bad outcomes. If we are honest, we have all made choices in our past that we wish we could remake. Most of us have done some things we are ashamed of — things we don’t want anyone to know about. Many of us would like to just start over. Especially after the whirlwind of a year we had in 2020.
The Apostle Paul certainly felt this way. He writes in 2 Timothy 1:15-16, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners — of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.” In Paul’s earlier life he was a persecutor of the church. He arrested followers of Jesus and had them thrown in jail or executed. I’m sure that as Paul reflected over his life, he wished he could go back in time and start over. However, he couldn’t — and neither can we.
But here is the Good News. In Christ Jesus, a person gets to start over. God is a God of not just second chances, but of many chances. The Bible makes it clear that God desires to show grace, mercy and forgiveness to everyone. When a man or woman repents, God simply wipes the slate clean — past, present and future sins are all forgiven. Thus, a true follower of Jesus stands justified in the sight of God. It’s ‘just-as-if-I’d’ never sinned. Therefore, in Christ, we can forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead! Praise God!
As we look ahead at the coming New Year, let’s forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead. God desires to use each one of us to advance His kingdom. Let’s determine to live our lives to please Him. Let’s determine to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in the future as we make many critical decisions. The best is yet to come.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)