Don’t Let Your Past Keep You From Serving God (Philippians 3:13-14)
We need grace in order to forget. We are often encouraged to remember and warned against forgetting, but it is just as important to forget as it is to remember. For many, having an excellent memory has lead to heartache and brought pain and regret. Joseph thanked God that He had made him forget, and Paul often spoke of forgetting as a state of progress. Let’s not misunderstand, or lose sight of, what he is writing. Obviously, no man can ever forget his past, but as the years of our walk with the Lord increase, we will have many great memories. However, memories do not always inspire. There are many who mourn due to the memory of past sin, regrets and failures. There is neither strength, nor joy, in their souls because they lack the grace to forget. Paul pressed forward for a prize. To him there was something greater to be gained by moving ahead and not lingering in the past. That is true for us in terms of offense as well. There is simply nothing to be gained by going back to past hurts and refusing to get over them. However, by forgiving and pressing forward, we gain a greater attribute of Christ-likeness. We are often inspired by those who are following, reaching and pressing toward the finish line despite life’s challenges.
1. Remember God Forgets
God always remembers to forget the sin He forgives (Isaiah 43:25; Hebrews 8:12; 10:17) God gives the assurance to the sinner who turns to Him that his sin will not be mentioned to him (Ezekiel 18:22). He is so direct in His forgiveness of our sins that He casts all our sins into the depths of the sea, ‘"Into the depth of the sea"! (Micah 7:19). Nothing could be more point-blank. If He blots out, why should we try to remember? Think of it, the devil will offer us any tackle he can in order for us to see if we could fish them up again. The Lord threw them in. Let us always be content to let them be buried there. It is miserable to see some people's nauseating distress over their past when God has already forgiven them long ago. He forgets—why should we request? If we believe in the forgiveness of sins, let us not torture ourselves with useless and needless pain. Forget the things which are behind. Leave sin where He has placed it—under the blood of the Cross.
2. Regrets are Futile
In life, there are both triumphant victories and crushing defeats. When an opportunity has been missed we observe its worth. Life's lessons on learning about losses should teach us to discipline our mind, but for some people it only gets on the nerves. “If I had only listened the first time and acted more wisely, how different life would have been!” They sit down and fret over what might have been, all the while other opportunities are slipping by. Forget past chances and bend your back to the one at your feet. The fire has died in some hearts because they can never seem to forget their past mistakes. Some unpleasant trial has derailed them and they have never gotten back on track. The minds of many have become a graveyard haunted by past regrets. Joseph thanked God that He had made him forget not only his travail, but also his father's house. Of course, he never forgot his home entirely, but it ceased to hold him captive. Our lives should be so filled with meaning and purpose that its attractive desire compels us to focus on the future, not in the past. Keep in mind, that everyday the Lord offers new opportunities for us to manifest His glory and build up His kingdom. Each day is valuable, and with it presents opportunities that will never come again. Although the past cannot be recaptured, there are pages for tomorrow still blank, waiting to be turned so life’s journeys can be recorded.
3. Resist Focusing on Former Successes
As strange as it may sound, successes in life can do more harm than failures to some. No matter how many victories and successes one has achieved for the Lord Jesus Christ, he is to never cease from the laboring in his service. Some have been known to go on a lengthy leave of absence from God's service after a monumental success. However, each new triumph should inspire a new desire, igniting a passion to perform another task. But sometimes spiritual paralysis sets inside the soul, leaving the servant of God comatose. Paul is stating it is great we have many victories in this life, but don't focus too long on them because know they are in the past. Press on to future achievements. Great achievements have been the undoing of many servants because they have failed to forget. If we are constantly focusing on past victories we will only find ourselves stumbling forward as we seek future triumphs.
Prayer, Lord Jesus, help me to pursue toward the prize without wavering on life's highway. Thank You for forgetting my past and giving me strength I need to press on. I know that what lies ahead for me are many opportunities to build up Your Kingdom. I look to You as You guide me and provide for me with spiritual stamina for the journey ahead. May I not look back and never give up. I await the day to see Your face and hear these words, "Well Done".
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Dr. Blackman is passionate about helping others grow in the grace of the Lord. His devotions are centered on how to grow closer to the Lord through a personal relationship.