Beyond Regret

Rebecca Van Noord

I’ve excelled at regret. When I’ve dwelt on the wrongs I committed against other people and my offensive rebellion against God, I lost my focus. It’s difficult to be confident in our righteousness through Christ when we go through these periods.

In Philippians 3:12–14, Paul offers both hope and advice for these times based on his own experience: “But I do one thing, forgetting the things behind and straining toward the things ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Paul looks forward to being with God in fullness and experiencing the fruits of his labor for the gospel, so he presses “toward the goal.” He emphasizes that we need to forget the “things behind.” Paul would have known the need for this. As a zealous Pharisee, he had persecuted the early church, counting himself the foremost of sinners (1 Tim 1:15).

Does forgetting imply that we act as if our failures never occurred? Not necessarily. We should seek forgiveness from others whenever possible. But it’s dangerous to dwell on the failures—to live in regret. In fact, we belittle Christ’s sacrifice if we purposefully or knowingly live in fear and guilt. He has paid for our sins and given us new life, and that means handing over our imperfections for Him to bear.

Paul swiftly moves from forgetting to “straining toward the things ahead, [he says,] I press on” (Phil 3:14). We are called to a new life in Christ, and this should be our focus. We will experience this, and we will know the complete fulfillment of this reality when He comes again. In the meantime, we can move forward without being crippled by our sins.

How are you caught up in your past mistakes? How can you seek help from God during these times while trusting in His forgiveness?

This article was originally posted in Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan.