“But one thing I do, forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead.” Philippians 3:13
Please enjoy the meditation of Rick Dubose, our general treasurer for the Assembly of God USA, based on Philippians 3:13. I trust it will challenge you as much as it challenged me.
“A Clean Start by Rick Dubose
The old Law had an annual celebration at which a special offering would be presented and a scapegoat released. This ritual marked a line on the calendar saying goodbye to the past year and all its sins and missteps, and hello to a clean start. This allowed the nation and its people to move forward, unencumbered with past sins. My question is: Does the calendar still give us the same opportunity? Are seasons and years still a good friend that allows us to release the past and move ahead unencumbered? I know we no longer participate in the rituals of the Law and that Jesus is our Jubilee, but the principle of an annual restart may still apply.
In Hebrews 8:13, when speaking about the transition between the old covenant and the new, the writer says, “By calling this covenant ‘new,’ he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.”
When a thing becomes obsolete, it should disappear. If it is kept, it decreases the opportunity and potential of the new. It becomes useless clutter, taking up space and energy that should belong to the new. In the same way, when we emotionally hold on to our obsolete past, we hinder our new future and all its potential. It would be like towing an old wrecked vehicle behind a new one. The new one could never perform at its peak, and the old one would have no benefit from being dragged around. The dragging does not make the old new, better or useful. That’s why what is old and obsolete should disappear!
The question then is this: How do we make the past year and all its sins, mistakes, losses, and regrets
In Philippians 3:13, Paul writes, “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.” He says we should forget what is behind. How do we do that? I can easily forget where I put my keys, but forgetting my sins and the sins others have committed against me is a whole different level. How can I do that? I think there are two actions- rituals, as it were- that help us forget our past sins and make them “disappear” so we can go forward unhindered. One of those rituals is to finish what we have left incomplete.
Unfinished tasks are hard to forget. They pop up in prayer, conversation, board meetings and relationships. They move from year to year, house to house and church to church. They can be an unpaid bill or an unfinished commitment, an unforgiven friend or a half-clean garage. The question the becomes: What things in your life won’t disappear from your thoughts and emotions because you haven’t finished them? Write them down, put on your work clothes, get a broom and clean the garage, pick up the phone and make the call, or write the check and pay the bill. It’s often like the walls of Jerusalem during the time of Nehemiah; they had been broken for decades, but once they became the focus and priority of the people, they were completed in 52 days! Stop towing the wrecks of the past everywhere you go! Finish them, and move on.
The next question is: What can I do about the things I finished but didn’t finish well? What about my sin that hurt others and my decisions that hurt the church or my family that I can’t fix with more work? The answer is, what cant’s be finished must be forgiven!
Ask God to forgive you and receive His forgiveness according to your merits. Next, forgive yourself. Sure, it was stupid and selfish and completely your fault, but if your Father has forgiven you, who are you to keep yourself in the bondage of unforgiveness? Finally, ask others to forgive you. Once a thing is truly forgiven, it can be forgotten. Once a thing can be forgotten, it can ride the scapegoat off into oblivion and disappear forever.
The old Law did not live up to its full potential because generation after generation did not keep it as they should have. So, should they have continued to use the old covenant and its Law just so they could prove that it could have worked and that it was valuable? No, because the moment had passed, and it is now obsolete. The principle here is that once God has moved on, so must we. Therefore, seeing that God did not lengthen 2017 but allowed it to end as planned, we need to declare it obsolete, finished, forgiven and forgotten.
Under the Law, once the sacrifice became ashes and the scapegoat had cleared the horizon, the people could return home free from the past and ready to start the next year unencumbered- and so can we!”
God has wonderful things planned for us in 2018. Don’t miss out by looking back. Look forward and choose to press in.
Your Pastor and Friend,