by Heather Tietz
Brothers, I don’t regard myself as yet having taken hold, but one thing I do. Forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
The apostle Paul had reason to put the past behind him. Before his vision of Jesus, before his conversion, he had been an enemy of Christ and Christians. He was the one who bore a list of early converts, both men, and women, chased them down, dragged them to Jerusalem and approved of their deaths. He was the one who stood before Stephen while he was stoned. He had ripped apart families, destroyed people, halted God’s life-giving the gospel. Paul had a guilty past. But his heart had changed. He had met Jesus. Instead of being stunted by guilt, instead of creeping along with a weighted conscience, he sought forgiveness and moved toward a new goal, spreading God’s kingdom.
Paul calls himself the worst of sinners. More than likely your past can’t rival his. We’ve all had a life before Jesus, a time before our godly striving. Perhaps it was a selfish childhood or a pleasure-driven adolescence. Perhaps you’ve broken laws or broken people. Sins aren’t measured in God’s eyes. We’ve all been guilty.
Now we’re equally all free to turn our backs on our past and strive toward godly goals.