Leave the past in the past.

Sounds wise, doesn’t it? But aren’t there some things from the past that are worth carrying into the future? And not just worth carrying, but actually necessary?

Certain memories can encourage us when our faith is weak. Lessons we’ve learned can steer us away from foolishness. Promises made can remind us of the importance of keeping our word.

Much of the past should be brought into the future.

If you want to see the importance of connecting former days to future days, take note of Psalm 78. The psalmist’s heavy use of past-tense words and phrases, coupled with the stated intent of one generation carrying past things forward to the benefit of the next generation, is proof that not everything should be left behind.

When Paul wrote about “forgetting what lies behind,” he was clearly thinking about those things that would keep temptation active, not things that would provoke him—and others—to love and good deeds (see Hebrews 10:24).

As we, like Paul, “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call,” there is a place for forgetting the past. But there is also a place for remembering it.

 

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,
I press on toward the goal
for the prize of the upward call of God
in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:13–14 ESV)