Friday, May 11, 2012

Forgetting the Past

If you're like me, you have a pretty good memory. Not just a good memory when it comes to what outfit someone was wearing last time you saw her (although that's my gift) but a good memory when it comes to remembering your mistakes and especially the mistakes your friends/family/acquaintances have made. In fact, sometimes my memory is so good that eventually I tend to almost define a person based on either my first impression or one interaction we had or one mistake he/she made. I'm definitely not proud of that, and it's something I've learned about myself over the past 2 years, especially. I hold on to things in a lot of areas that I shouldn't. I hold on to people who are detrimental to me, I hold on to sins I've committed that keep holding me down, or I hold on to the guilt I have from mistakes I've made in the past. I don't just view others based on their mistakes, I view myself based on that also. But every time I hold on to my mistakes, I'm underestimating God's forgiveness and the potential He's given me for healing. Every time you hold on to someone else's mistakes, you're undermining the potential unity of the church and the longsuffering nature we should have as Christians. After all, if anyone had reason to hold onto mistakes, it was Paul, and if you read Philippians (which I'd strongly encourage you to do today) you'll see reminder after reminder to reach foward, put your past behind you and stop holding on to sin so that you can reach higher ground spiritually. If anyone had reason to be bitter towards those who mistreated Him, it was Jesus, and He spoke from the cross asking God for the forgiveness of His persecutors. I've never been betrayed that badly, but whether it's something hurtful someone said, or gossip that was spread about me, or even just a weird first impression, me holding on to a grudge or keeping a bad attitude about someone else is doing nothing to further the Gospel or unity in the body of Christ.

"Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you and that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel....complete my joy by being of the same mind having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves....Not that I have already obtained [the resurrection from the dead] or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining foward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." -Phil. 1,2,3

So. What am I working on today while I sit at this desk and no one buys books from me?

--I'm thinking through the people I have harbored bad feelings towards, and trying to get perspective about the immaturity of how I feel. I'm praying that I can move on and find things to appreciate and value in them, and I'm realizing that even if they have a long way to go, I do too. I'm praying that I'll put Christ first and through that I'll be able to work side-by-side with all my brothers and sisters. I'm praying that I'll be humble enough to see my flaws and have perspective to realize I'm no better than anyone else. I'm praying that I can realize no matter how someone treats me, God can use it for my betterment. Think Joseph in Genesis 50: "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good...."

--I'm thinking through guilt and sin that have caused me to be less outgoing or forthright with the Gospel, and realizing that I don't have to be perfect to spread God's plan, because His Word and His love are perfect. That's what the Gospel of Luke and Genesis and really the whole Bible are all about: God can use anyone to accomplish His plans and purpose, even the most surprising people. Like Jacob, or Esther, or the men on the road to Emmaus, or Matthew the tax collector, or a young girl named Mary and her carpenter fiance Joseph, or a Pharisee named Paul who persecutes Christians, or Peter, who made seemingly shocking mistakes and still did great good in the kingdom, or Apollos, who missed a few memos with the message but recovered to be influential in the church. Today I'm praying for boldness and forgiveness so that I can learn from my mistakes but not hold on to them, and not let any reputation I've had or any fears I've had hold me back from doing all the good I can.

Don't let division or strife steal our influence in the world. What chance does the world have if the sources of light are working to extinguish each other?

How much good can we do if we're all looking ahead, moving forward, helping each other along, and always having the same mind, same love, and being in full accord with each other?

Forget what lies behind, and press on with me today.

"How deep the Father's love for us! How vast beyond all measure! That He should give His only Son to make a wretch His treasure!"

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