Thinking of the Past

Have you ever noticed how many stories there are in the Bible?  There are so many life stories of those who have gone before us.  We can read about many people from beginning to end. There are stories of their families, battles, triumphs and tragedies. Why has God given us these historical records to read and review? Is it because He is a good story teller? Does He want to give us something to read beside doctrine?

The answer is that those records are there for us to learn from, to help us learn from their mistakes. You may be familiar with the saying, “hindsight is 20/20” and through the Bible; we have the benefit of seeing how decisions at one end of their life have affected them at the other end of their life. Sometimes there were devastating results, and other times there were glorious ones.

I want you to understand that your past can be of great benefit to you.

For example, you can use the victories God has given you in the past to go on to another victory in the future.  Previous victories help you to face challenges with strength and confidence.

Take a minute and recall the story of a young man named David.  David took his sling and told the King he would go and fight Goliath.  Saul was not in favor of this, as David was just a boy but David was very confident he would prevail. He told King Saul about the time he saved one of his sheep from a lion and a bear.  He said to King Saul:

“Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.” Moreover David said, “The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!” 1 Samuel 17:34-37 (NKJV)

Recalling the past was of great benefit to both David and ultimately to the nation of Israel.

Recalling the past can also help us to handle trials in the present. As Job grappled with the loss of all things and nearly all the people who he loved in his life, he thought about the goodness of God.
Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” Job 2:10 (NKJV)
Job was able to speak honestly to his wife in spite of the grief and heartache because he remembered the goodness and the kindness of God.  He understood God’s faithfulness, and this carried him through the otherwise unbearable trials of the present.

Thirdly, looking at the past helps us to forgive.

Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.
“But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. Matthew 18:23-35

As we look at this parable, we can see that along with mercy and grace there is justice. What we learn from this poor fellow’s story is that we are to be forgiving; demonstrating mercy as we have been shown mercy.  Those who have trouble forgiving are not benefiting from their past.

A woman who focuses on the good that has resulted by what God has done in her past is most likely applying truth today out of love and thanksgiving.

So let me ask you; how much do you apply the truth of what you know to your life?  Do you take Bible verses such as Romans 12:1-2 and practically apply them? Do you consider yourself a living sacrifice?
Are you excited about growing and changing?  Does progressive sanctification excite and energize you?  

I hope you are, because the degree to which you are excited about growing and changing; that is the same extent to which you are been a steward of your memories and the lessons of your past.