Recently I read a (likely fictional) tale of a man faced with a monumental decision. For several months he had gradually been losing his memory and went to his doctor seeking help. After a thorough exam, his doctor explained he was suffering from a very rare condition that if left untreated would eventually result in complete long-term memory loss. The physician then suggested a form of brain surgery that could possibly reverse his condition and restore his memory. He warned, however, that this particular operation was quite delicate and that during the course of the procedure, there was a distinct possibility a critical nerve might be severed, resulting in total blindness.
“So,” the physician concluded, “the choice is yours. What would you rather have? Your sight or your memory?” The man pondered the question for several minutes, then finally replied, “My sight, because I would rather see where I am going than remember where I have been.”
Thankfully none of us will likely ever be confronted with the decision this man had to make. But as Paul indicates Philippians 3, in a metaphorical sense, every Christian who wants to grow in Christ must make a similar choice: to focus what lies ahead or dwell on what lies behind.
In Philippians 3, Paul speaks of having faced this dilemma on focusing on where he been (his past) or where, by God’s grace, he was headed in the future. And he makes it clear what his choice was. His past, with all its successes and its shames, he chose to forget. Instead of dwelling on where he’d been, he chose to look ahead to where he was going. What mattered most to him, he said, was keeping his eyes on the goal of gaining Christ’s approval.
Paul was mindful of the fact that according to the promises in His Word, God does not remember our past. If we are faithful to confess our sins, we’re assured that God will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. In other words, God erases them from His memory. As Micah 7 says, God cast the into the sea of forgetfulness so that, as Hebrews 8 puts it, God “remembers them no more.”
At the same time, the Bible constantly assures us that God has a wonderful future for all who love Him. It’s a future so glorious that according to I Corinthians 2, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
The mindset the man modeled in our story is the same as that of Paul. And a mark of Christian maturity. To continue to grow spiritually, we have to be willing to look for the new things God is working to develop in our lives. And, if Jesus is truly Lord of our life, we can always look forward to what He is leading us toward, knowing He’s in charge and will bless us from His abundant riches in Christ (Philippians 4:19)!
What will we choose?
To see or to remember?
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