Author: Ron Graham
A Good Memory Can Be a Bad Thing
In Philippians 3:13, Paul says, "Forgetting the things which are behind, and reaching forward to those which are ahead, I press toward the goal..." In this lesson we ask what things should we forget and leave behind? When is it a bad thing to have a good memory?
Some things are best forgotten, or at least nor carried as a daily burden. They shouldn't be at the forefront of our daily concerns. We have enough to contend with; the track is difficult enough; and we don't need to be dragging the past along with us. But what are these things “best forgotten”? The following should be high on the list.
1 Past Sufferings
Who among us has not had wrong done to them, and suffered as a result? In many cases nothing can be done to right the wrong and make the pain go away. But we can hand the matter to Jesus and let go of it ourselves.
Jesus said, "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:28). Surely this includes the wrongs we have suffered. He will ease the burden and the pain of these wrongs.
Sometimes we need to stop fighting against the circumstances causing our suffering, and leave the problem to God. That's what Paul had in mind when he said, "Why not rather accept wrong? ...For I consider our present day sufferings as not worthy of comparison with the glory that will be revealed to us" (1Corinthians 6:7, Romans 8:18).
When we are addressing serious wrongdoing, it is on our minds all day long and even through the night. We may have to admit it's all too much for us and we should give it to the Keeper. "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have written them in your book" (Psalm 56:8).
When we desire justice, let's remember that God says, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay..." (Romans 12:19), and that is something we should definitely leave to God.
2 Past Shame
We are also troubled by remembrance of the wrongs we ourselves have done. We do not atone for our sins by worrying about them and feeling guilt. Paul mentions sinners of various kinds, and then he says to the Corinthians, "And such were some of you; but you were washed; you were made holy; you were made right, in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God" (1Corinthians 6:11).
Clearly we need to hand our own sins over to Jesus. When we have done all we can to put right what wrongs we have done, we are still left with the fact that we have done them, and we need to be forgiven. God has made a way to do that.
¶ "Through the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself without blemish to God. How much more then, will the blood of Christ purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God!" (Hebrews 9:14).
The person we were can be crucified with Christ, buried with him, raised to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:1-23).
Have you ever got your hands dirty and not been able to wash them immediately? You are very conscious of those dirty hands until you have washed them. Then they aren't dirty anymore, and you can stop feeling grubby. So it is when your sins are washed away in the blood of Jesus.
3 Past Pride
From time to time, the human world is beset by false pride. People reject God and put themselves in his place. They think they are fit to be God, or at least to design their own gods. They claim that they can be anything they wish to be, and can do it in their own strength.
When this hubris begins to crack, people may still resist turning humbly to hope in Jesus, a hope that "does not disappoint" (Romans 5:5). When people reject that hope, the consequences can be very bitter indeed.
Paul tells us how Jesus "humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross" (Philippians 2:8-9). Jesus was willing to empty himself of his legitimate glory. So shouldn't we empty ourselves of the illegitimate pride of life?
Along those lines John says, "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If people love the world, they do not have the love of the Father in them. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but of the world. That world with its lust is passing away, whereas those who do the will of God shall abide forever." (1John 2:15-17).
In short, the pride of life should be abandoned to the past and a genuine humble hope and faith in Jesus should be the new mindset.
4 Past Pleasure
The past for sinners is not all hurt and shame and foolish pride. Sin may have its pleasures for a time. Moses "chose not to enjoy the pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt..." (Hebrews 11:25).
Moses knew there were pleasures and treasures to be enjoyed in sinful Egypt, but he saw no desirable future in them.
Moses was, by faith, "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, in spite of its shame, and sat down at the right hand of God’s throne" (Hebrews 12:1-2).
If we remember any pleasure of a former sinful life, beware lest that remembrance tempt us to turn back. Jesus gives us something else to remember as an antidote: "Remember Lot's wife" (Luke 17:32).
Arthur J. Hodge puts this very well in verse 2 of his hymn,"There's a line that is drawn by rejecting our Lord".
"You may barter your hope
Of eternity’s morn
For a moment of joy
At the most.
For the glitter of sin
And the things it will win.
Have you counted,
Have you counted the cost?"