Everyone has a past, and that past is comprised of many successes and failures, wins and losses, acts that are commendable, and those that are not so much. When commending ourselves to others, we present our achievements. We desire for others to perceive us in a positive light. Alternatively, in our times of quiet seclusion, we tend to focus on where we’ve fallen short. Perhaps this is due to low self-esteem, or we analyze our mistakes, looking for opportunities to grow. Regardless, we all have a complicated history.

Having a personal history gives us a particular perspective. Looking back allows us to measure our growth over time. By observing our past, we can recognize and celebrate seasons of growth while uncovering areas of improvement. Within our past and our future, we project goals and construct milestones for reaching them. Perhaps, our milestones are based on age, weight, finances, or time, such as each year. But, we give ourselves objectives and measure our success by the results we’ve delivered.

In his letter to the church of Philippi, however, Paul challenges them to regard their past differently. Using himself as an example, Paul urges his readers to forget their past—all of it. Forget the good times and the bad. Forget the successes and the failures. His encouragement even includes those things done for the sake of the gospel.

When examining our past, we have an unfortunate tendency to measure our progress based on our efforts. As we look back and compare where we are currently to where we’ve come from, we are prone to congratulate ourselves for our successes and commit to working harder on our failures. But, the common thread in all of this is ourselves. Regardless of the outcomes—positive or not so much—our effort is the common denominator through them all.

Paul, however, wasn’t concerned with his personal growth. He wasn’t focused on where he had come from or any of the outcomes of his previous efforts. His accomplishments and accolades meant nothing. Any status that he had achieved was empty and futile. Paul was not looking back but looking forward.

Paul was less interested in where he had come from than where he was going. For Paul, the measurement of his success wasn’t based on accolades but on intimacy. His goal—passion—was to grow as close to Christ and walk in obedience to his call as he could, and he measured this daily. Each day, he set for himself the goal to pursue Christ as much as he could. Yesterday’s pressing in was sufficient for yesterday, but yesterday is over; today is a new day, and Paul was not satisfied with living on yesterday’s communion with Christ. Like the manna of old, Paul desired a fresh portion daily. Additionally, tomorrow may never come, so he did not concern himself with the affairs of tomorrow. Instead, he disciplined himself only to seek his daily bread.

As you consider today’s devotional, I strongly urge you to lay aside everything—all accomplishments and failures—of the past. Instead, seek Christ today; yearn for his sufficiency to cover this day. Then, do so again and again, each passing day. Your performance and what you’ve accomplished are irrelevant. In the end, the only thing of present value is your intimacy with Christ Jesus.