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Other articles on Philippians

Philippians 3:13

Develop a Biblical Perspective on Making Future Plans

Paul J. Bucknell

Paul the apostle provides a great biblical perspective for future planning in Philippians 3:13.

"Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead" (Philippians 3:13).

There are three important aspects to maintain a balanced perspective when making future plans.

1) A Learning Attitude

"Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do..." (Philippians 3:13a).

It is important to be humbled before the challenge of fulfilling God's purpose in your life. We can see this in Paul's words, "do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet." It is something yet before him.

Future plansOne of the things that spoil discipleship is the presumption that one has already learned it. Paul was only willing to give this attitude up when he was about to die. As long as we live, we have something we have not yet obtained and things we have not learned. Once we start believing that we have already obtained those things, then we quickly regress. We see this pride spoil many a man and ministry.

Personal Reflections

List two ways you reflect this learning attitude in your daily life. If you cannot find them, then confess your prideful attitude and ask God to give you such a heart.

2) Not Past-focused

"Forgetting what lies behind" (Philippians 3:13b).

We must not be distracted with the success or failures of the past. It is so easy to focus on the past. Paul himself evidently was aware of this and included this in his statement. Any runner that turns around loses. A winner strives toward the goal. So what is wrong about looking at the past? Two things.

a) First of all, if we have any tinge of success, turning around tends to lead us to pride. It is easy to become content rather than focus on the unknown future that might bring failure.

b) Secondly, we are not to look at the past because many are influenced by a sense of defeat. The evil one is quick to accuse God's people. He would have us stare at our failures and think, "You will never be any good." "Look and see how you failed God." These are not words from the Lord, but from the evil one. God has provided the cross so we can gain forgiveness and love to remind us of how He wants to work out good things in our remaining time.

Be careful of the past. It is best to forget it because it interferes with what yet needs to be accomplished.

Personal Reflections

When you look at the past, are you tempted to pat yourself on the back because of success or feel guilty and giving-up? Recognize how the evil one tempts you in these situations, confess any sin and ask God to help you be more careful of looking to the past.

3) Future-oriented

"Reaching forward to what lies ahead" (Philippians 3:13c).

Paul was focused on the future and committed to fulfilling all that God has designed for him. This is the way we all ought to be. This phrase best captures our future perspective. Without the proper attitude and a willingness to forget the past, however, we have no way to obtain what lies ahead.

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Behind this phrase is a proper assumption that God has much planned to do through our lives. This is not secular boasting of one's hope in our blind belief but a firm faith in God's control of events. Ephesians 2:10 speaks on how God has His good works planned for our lives.

"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:10)

If we have already lived out half of our lives, then the remaining good works God has planned becomes our life goal: accomplish what He has planned for the rest of our lives.

The good part about this hope is that God works behind the scenes shaping events, individuals, movements and our own particular drives and gifts to give us opportunity to serve Him.

Personal Reflections

List three things that the Lord has for you to do. If you do not know, think through your involvement with other individuals or places that you attend and ask the Lord to show you how He might want to use you in those situations.


When planning, attitude counts. Pride and contentment stink. Turning around and staring at the things of the past will destroy us. We must move on and be perpetually challenged with what God has yet for us to do so that we stay in consistent dependence on His grace, strength, joy and wisdom.

Further BFF reading regarding planning for your pleasure.

> Download the Bible bookmark for making plans.
> Read much more from BFF on Ephesians 2:10.
> "Waiting and Planning": How to Make Plans God's Way - Isaiah 29-32
> Proverbs 16:1-4 From Planning to Purpose: God's Plans and Our Lives