Out With The Old

“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.”

Philippians 3:13

People do all sorts of things in order to remember and sharpen their cognitive skills. Some put apps on their smart phone to remind them of important dates and events. Others do crossword puzzles to keep their mind active. Sometimes we work so hard to remember that it hinders our ability to forget.  Have you ever heard the phrase, “If you heard ninety-nine good things about your self and one bad thing chances are you would dwell on the one bad thing.” It’s true, it’s human nature to tend to dwell on the negative things rather than the good things in life.

The apostle Paul was all for remembering too and goes as far as to tell us what things we should not only remember but what things we should dwell on too. In Philippians 4:8 the apostle Paul tells us, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” Some translations use the word “dwell” in place of meditate while others use the word “recall or remember”.

So how do we remember the ninety-nine good things and not the one bad thing so to speak? After all, there is only so much hard drive space in our brain (using a computer metaphor). The apostle Paul answered that question using his own life as an example. In Philippians 3 the apostle Paul pointed out that to make room for things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely and of good report you have to first clear out the things that are in the way. The apostle Paul knew you can’t back into your future so he had to let go of the things in his past to lay hold of the things that lie ahead.

Is there anything in your past that you are dwelling on today that is taking up space in your brain that could be better used for something good? If so choose to forget. When the apostle Paul uses the word forget he doesn’t mean to accidentally forget as we often think when we hear the word forget. No, the apostle Paul is telling his readers that he willfully and deliberately chooses to forget. In the same way we take steps to remember, we can take steps to forget too. When we choose to forget that doesn’t mean we are unable or incapable to recall whatever it may be that we want to forget to our mind. What it does mean is that is that when whatever it is that comes to our mind that we need to forget and not remember we don’t allow our minds to meditate or to dwell on them. It’s like the difference between noticing and focusing. You might not be able to control the things you see in life but you do have control over your focus, the second look.

Spring is often the time of the year where people do “Spring Cleaning” where they go through their stuff and eliminate the old which makes room for something new. We can do the same thing in our minds. You probably have heard the expression, “garbage in garbage out”. Whatever we allow in our minds eventually finds its way out of our lives through our actions. Thats why it’s so important that we clear out the bad thoughts and failings each day by choosing to meditate only on the things that are true, and not just true, but the things that are true and lovely and make for a good report. In other words, learn to live your life focused on the ninety-nine good things.

“…and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”

Ephesians 4:23–24


Michael Osthimer





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