Forgetting what lies behind . . .
With the familiar words above, Paul reminds the Philippians—and the rest of us—to continue to gaze forward in order that we keep in view the things of the present and of the future. The apostle understands as well as we do that there is nothing that can be done to alter the past. What has happened has happened (or, as many in our day are prone to say, “It is what it is”). We know that a moment gone is a moment that can never be relived. Accordingly, we are best served to keep our eyes ahead. But there is value in considering what has gone before. There are actions people have taken, and events that have occurred—both good and bad—that serve to educate and warn us. There are also moments in our personal pasts that teach us how better to live and act in this world. It is a useful exercise to recall how we lived before in order that we might emulate that which is good and holy, and also avoid that which is not. Paul was certainly not telling the Philippians that he never looked back or never reflected on his past. In fact, in many of his letters he did just that—he looked back on his own story for the purposes of teaching and encouraging. This is good for all of us to do from time to time. It is healthy to look back for the sake of our own learning and maturity. It is good to reflect on occasion, for the sake of the future.