“… But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.” Philippians 3:13-15, ESV
Welcome to the New Year of 2016! Lots of folks start the New Year by making resolutions. Shortcomings are evaluated in an attempted at candid and truthful reflections. You stand on the scale to see your real weight. You don’t lie about the scale not being on level ground or off by 10 pounds. And it’s from these types of self-examinations that new goals are made to improve life.
Statistics say 45% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. Of those who do, 25% never make it past the first week. Another 40% dropout by the end of January. After 6 months less than half are committed to their original pledge. By year’s end over 88% of resolutions are cast aside or forgotten. What’s the most popular resolution Americans make: to lose weight. The second is becoming more organized and the third highest resolution is to get out of debt. Maybe it’s figured organization helps to get out of debt.
After reading those statistics, intelligence says there’s a great possibility most New Year’s resolutions will be in the dust by June. That type of failure can devastate a person who senses need for help. Every year confessions are made that lead to the same old failures and disappointments. It’s that easy end up one of the failing eighty-eight ‘percenters.’ For this, Paul gives a few pointers for the New Year: forgetting, pressing and focusing. The first pointer is:
“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,” Philippians 3:13
All ‘self-evaluations’ must be done with a proper perspective. Reflecting on past failures can devastate. People become haunted by ‘what-could-have-been!’ For that matter, successes can be paralyzing, too. Some folks never seem to move beyond their high school/college days. Paul writes in Philippians 3, verse 7:
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.”
Paul is saying there’s a need for living in the present. Past failure or success does not secure a future. But, learning to live in the present means finding God’s grace sufficient moment-by-moment.
Secondly, consider the next pointer of:
Starting a little way into verse 13:
“…straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Paul indicates goals are good! New Year’s resolutions have goals that teach living for the future. If self-examining questions are to be asked, let it be “am I just living in my past or for tomorrow? Make a reasonable goal and press for it. Paul’s goal was for the prize of the upward calling!
Finally, Paul is making the point of:
Verse 15 in The Message Bible reads:
“So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet!”
Failure happens when eyes are taken off the goal of the prize. There was a sad story in the news of a man who got out of a cab, was so distracted with reading his cell phone, that he lost focus of where he was and walked straight off a cliff to his death.
Focusing on God’s Word for reasonable goals is the way of living in new life. For example: if a New Year’s resolution has the goal of becoming more organized, look in God’s Word for ways others were organized. Surely, Joseph was organized when planning for seven barren years. Assuredly, David helped organize Solomon in view of building the Temple. Focusing on the goal of ‘everything God has for you’ is found in His Word! Every answer we need is for life is in the Bible!
So, in light of forgetting, pressing and focusing, a good prayer for 2016 would be—God, clear my blurred vision to see goals from You! Happy New Year!
J. Robert Hanson