Finding God's Winning Spirit

Positive Neglect

April 20, 2015 | Greg Smith | Christianity


For an individual to be emotionally healthy in the present, he or she must be able to emotionally negotiate the past.  How we “frame” the past is important.  When dealing with a problem in the present it is not uncommon to find ourselves struggling with the past – the two are always connected. The fact of the matter is we cannot escape the past; good or bad - it is part of us. That's OK it makes us who we are.

Our goal here is not to forget or deny the past but to use it to our advantage.  I often tell clients that the past is a storehouse of knowledge.  When this storehouse of knowledge is used correctly, it can become “cliff notes” to the future. If used correctly the past not only can show us the mistakes we made yesterday; it will give us a good idea of the mistakes we are prone to make tomorrow.

In Philippians 3:13-14, The Apostle Paul says, “That one thing I do, forgetting the things that are behind me and stretching forward to the things which are before.  I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ.”

Clients often tell me that they struggle with this passage because they are unable to forget the traumatic occurrences or memories of the past.  They say these memories tend to haunt them and cloud the present. Somewhere along the line they were told that as Christians they must learn to not only forgive but also “to forget.” Often times they interpret this inability to forget a memory of the past as an indication that they are unfaithful or being disobedient to God. This is not the case.

The Greek word translated “forgetting” in Philippians 3:13 comes from the word epilanthanomai which means: to forget or neglect not the Greek word eklanthanomai which means: to forget utterly. The good news in this passage from Paul is that he tells us the goal is not to necessarily forget the things of the past but rather to neglect them. There is a big difference between being told to forget something and neglect something.

To neglect the past is a choice, a choice we make in what we think about. In essence, Paul is telling us that we have a choice in how we use the past.  If we have a choice to neglect things in the past then we also have the choice to use things in the past.  In Paul’s view, both choices are to be used to move toward the goal of increasing our faith and strengthening our relationship with God.  We are free to use the good (and the bad) of the past to "pursue the upward call" and disregard the rest. Paul warns us here to not let the past prevent us from being all we can be and doing all we can do for Christ. 

Paul speaks with some authority on dealing with the past. After all, Paul the evangelist was once Saul the persecutor.


(Excerpt from Take Up Your Bed and Walk)

Greg, this really spoke to me! Loved this blog.
Posted by Debbie on
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