I’ve always loved the start of a New Year. I love the possibilities it offers. The idea of a fresh start and a blank slate. So, while articles all around the web today are sharing things you should start doing, I thought I would focus on the other aspect of newness–the things that get left behind.
“One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 3:13-14
I love to read the Bible in context. This is a popular passage, and after these words, Paul goes on to say that all who are mature in Christ should have this mindset, and if not, God will reveal it to them. So, all of us should have this mindset, but what exactly is Paul talking about here? What things should be left behind and forgotten?
We should leave behind anything that gets in the way of our moving forward in Christ.
Here are some things I think we should leave behind us as we start the new year.
1. Worldly Pursuits
God’s word tells us that once we are in Christ, we are a “new creation.” We are new in Him. Jesus says to follow Him, we should deny ourselves. When we accept Christ, we become a servant to Him. Worldly pursuits should be behind us and we should have a focused goal of following Christ. Worldly pursuits could look different for different people, but I don’t believe they are just sinful activities. Instead, I believe it encompasses anything we strive for that takes away from or goes against God’s purpose in our lives. Striving for worldly goals will only result in discontent, and distract us from the ultimate goal that Paul is speaking of here.
As 2015 starts, evaluate your goals–are you chasing dreams, or chasing God? Are your goals God-given ones, or do they interfere with His purpose for your life? This is something for each of us to prayerfully consider.
2. Regret and Condemnation
More than likely, there are things that happened in 2014 that you aren’t proud of. At least I know this is true for myself. I failed at a couple of diets, had some bad parenting days, and didn’t accomplish many things that I could have. We all have regrets, sins, and failures. I fail as a wife. I fail as a mother. I fail as a friend, daughter, and child of God. Every.single.day, I fall short of who God has called me to be and who my family needs me to be.
Yes, I need to learn from my mistakes and strive continually to be the woman that God created me to be. But, I cannot live in a place of self-condemnation. God inspires us with conviction. Satan paralyzes us with condemnation. Regret wastes too much energy. Instead, past mistakes should be forgotten, so that we can move on and move forward in Him.
Leave your mistakes from 2014 in the past. Learn from them and look ahead to the coming year.
3. Grievances and Wrongs against us.
God’s word talks many times about forgiving those who wrong us. There is a great quote, “Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” Holding onto a grudge eats away at our peace, and allows bitterness to take root in one’s heart. God requires forgiveness from us, just as he offers forgiveness to us. In addition to that, He realizes the harmful effects of bitterness and holding a grudge. It will hold you back and prevent you from giving yourself fully to Him and His purpose.
Remember Lot’s Wife…
In the midst of discussing the second coming, Jesus says this simple statement in Luke 17:32, “Remember Lot’s wife.” We can find her story in Genesis 19:1-26. I challenge you to read it. There are so many disturbing aspects to this story, but mostly it shows the dangers of holding on to things that God tells us to let go. Lot was so caught up in the sinful world in which he was leaving that he had to be physically pulled away from the city (Genesis 19:16), even after being told that it would be destroyed. In Lot’s wife, we see the dangers of looking back.
If there is something in your life that needs to be left behind and forgotten, I pray that God will help you release it so that you can do as Paul, and forget those things that are behind and press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus!
What other things do you think are best left behind at the start of a new year?