Philippians 3: 12-16~ Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  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.
 All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.  Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
It seems that a lot of people would emphasize verse 14. We need encouragement to continue on. We need reminders of the ultimate goal so we aren’t distracted by what isn’t important.
I would expand to at least the passage I have here. Very quickly, here are some of my thoughts on this; I’m still thinking things through.
I can easily get distracted by things of my past. I would guess a lot of you know what I’m talking about. I have a strong guilt complex. Sometimes it seems like a bad dream or that I saw it a movie somewhere and it wasn’t really me that did that thing or had that attitude back there.
Someone from our past comes along and reminds us of who we were at some point. It could either be a wonderful memory of us or it could be an ugly portrait. It doesn’t need to be true either. They could have viewed us through a prejudiced lens, someone else’s opinion of us [secondhand information], or it could all be true.
Verse 12 + me: I am not perfect. I have never been perfect. I just had a thought that this life on earth is part of the perfecting process but I’ll never attain perfection on earth.
Verse 13 + me: I need to acknowledge what was true of my past, but also lay it aside. Do not let my past distract me. This is true whether it’s guilt over things I’ve done wrong or excessive pride over things I did well.
Verse 14 + me: If one wants to get technical about things, I’m not exactly sure I could say what prize Paul was talking about. But I should not let my past distract me from who I am in Christ and what God has called me to do right now.
Verse 15 + me: Maturity is an on-going thing, in my opinion. I’m more mature in my faith than I was when I accepted Christ. I’m more mature than I was last month. I’m not sure what else to say about this verse. As I said, quick thoughts.
Verse 16 + me: what I was saying builds up to this verse. I am not perfect, but I need to continue on from where I am in the perfecting process which God is working in me. I need to live up to the honor of being a Christian, of being called a child of God.
In one sense, I am who I am and will always be who I am. In another, I am not who I once was because God has done and is doing a work in me. If someone from my past comes along with an image of who I was, I can honestly say that I have changed. If they bring along a bad habit I used to have, I do not have to relive or restart that bad habit.
If they can’t understand that I am changed, or they insist that I reclaim that bad habit, I may just have to cut ties with that person. I need to pray for that person. I can’t save everyone and really, I can’t save anyone; that is Jesus’ right. The thing is to not let that person drag me back to who I used to be and am no more. If they don’t want to join me with who I am now, that is their choice.
I do not have to be who I used to be. In fact, I should not be who I used to be. But I do need to acknowledge what is true of my past, to resolve my past. My past was put right in my face; I couldn’t deny that the foggy notion in my mind was true. It wasn’t a movie scene or a bad dream.
Patsy Clairmont said of verse 13, “Paul did not say ‘denying what I know took place….’” [1^]
This particular thing in my past, I wasn’t denying it, but it was good to have the confirmation that it was true, it was real. It did happen. It’s far in my past and I did take years, many years, to resolve this part of my past. Coming up against the reminder of it, I think I’m okay.
To my readers, if you are a Christian, do not let the enemy get a hold of you and drag you into your past. Do not deny your past either, but live up to where you are with Christ now.
Final thought: how can we live up? We live UP to who we are in Christ by looking UP to God. Keep your focus on Him.
Mahalo for reading.
[1^] “God Uses Cracked Pots” Focus on the Family Broadcast. 1988.