Philippians 3:13-14 AMPC
We all have a “past.” It’s filled with hurts others have done to us, mistakes that got us into trouble, and things we’re so ashamed of we wouldn’t dare talk openly about them. What to do? There are only two things you can do with your past: focus on it, or forget it and move on.
If you need forgiveness, ask God for it, receive it by faith, learn from your mistakes, and try to do better next time. Paul wrote: “One thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward” (vv. 13-14 AMPC). Note the words “my one aspiration.” Before Paul met Christ, he routinely imprisoned and executed Christians and shut down churches. And what’s more, he got paid for it! Maybe that’ll make you feel a little better about your past. Now, however, Paul had only one aspiration: “straining forward to what lies ahead.”
When you fail by sinning, you compound your failure by obsessing over it and wallowing in guilt. Why? Because God has provided forgiveness for you! So whether you sinned twenty years or twenty minutes ago, there’s nothing you can do about it except to ask God for forgiveness, receive it, put it behind you, and move on. You must let go of yesterday’s mistakes in order to grasp today’s blessings. When you learn to do that, you will enjoy life the way God intended.
Soul food: 1 Sam 3:1-11; Acts 9:1-9
Philippians 3:13-14 AMP
We all have things in our past that play on our minds. The past is often filled with hurts others have done to us, mistakes that got us into trouble, and things we’re so ashamed of we wouldn’t dare talk openly about them. But what can we do about it? We can’t change what’s happened, so the alternatives are: focus on it, or let it go and move forwards.
Focusing on the past means we take our eyes off God and His plan, and we stop moving into the future and the blessings He’s got for us. So we need to choose to move forwards. If we need forgiveness for anything in our past, we should ask God for it, receive it by faith, learn from our mistakes, and try to do better next time. Paul wrote: ‘One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus’ (vv.13-14 AMP).
Before Paul met Christ, he imprisoned and executed Christians and shut down churches. But after, Paul had only one goal: ‘reaching forward to what lies ahead’. He refused to let his past mistakes prevent him from receiving God’s future.
When we fail, we can make things worse by obsessing over it and wallowing in guilt instead of taking hold of the forgiveness God offers to us. There’s nothing we can do about past sins and mistakes except to ask God for forgiveness, receive it, let the past go, and move forwards. We have to let go of yesterday’s mistakes in order to grasp today’s blessings and enjoy the life God intended for us.
1 Sam 3:1-11; Acts 9:1-9
Matthew 7:2 NIV
Jesus said, ‘Do not judge…For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you’ (vv. 1-2 NIV). We can easily fall into the habit of judging others, even though Jesus forbids it. Sometimes we might do it because we’re trying to be honest and point out someone else’s flaw or sin so that they can work on improving. There’s definitely a place for that, and the Bible does tell us to confront sins (take a look at James 5:19-20. But we have to do it in the right way, from a place of love, and with God’s help. If we become judgemental, we’re not only hurting someone, we’re also going against what God’s Word commands.
We also have to consider that the other person could already have repented, confessed their sin, and received God’s forgiveness. They might already be working through an issue with Him. If God’s already forgiven them and is helping them, there’s no need for us to keep bringing it up. We might also start to judge people because we feel insecure about ourselves in some way, so we look for others’ faults to make ourselves feel better.
But Jesus said, ‘Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?’ (Matthew 7:3 NIV). Jesus also said, ‘They are blessed who show mercy to others, for God will show mercy to them’ (Matthew 5:7 NCV). God shows us grace and mercy despite our faults, so we should extend the same grace and mercy to others too.
Nahum 1-3; John 6:1-24; Ps 85; Prov 24:11-14
Matthew 7:2 NIV
If you’re the one doing the judging, remember this timeless principle: What goes around comes around. Jesus said, “Do not judge…For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (vv. 1-2 NIV). It’s called the law of reciprocity, and it guarantees you will get back what you give. It’s not a threat; it’s an immutable law, just like the law of gravity.
You say, “I’m honest; I just tell it like it is. Besides, that person’s sin needs to be exposed!” It’s not about your honesty or their sin, it’s about God’s Word that forbids judging. You may be right and they may be wrong, but judging puts you in violation of Scripture. Plus it sets you up to be judged.
Question: What if the other person has already repented, confessed their sin, and received God’s forgiveness? Think about it: The worst kind of judging is judging sins God has already forgiven and forgotten (See Isaiah 43:25). When we judge others, we’re looking in the wrong direction. We’re avoiding what we don’t want to see – our own shortcomings.
Jesus said, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3 NIV). Whatever their “speck” is, it’s God’s business – not yours. Your “plank” is your business! Jesus also said, “They are blessed who show mercy to others, for God will show mercy to them” (Matthew 5:7 NCV). Instead of judging others, start investing in your own “mercy account.” You’ll need it soon enough.
Soul food: Nahum 1-3; John 6:1-24; Ps 85; Prov 24:11-14
Matthew 26:41 NIV
Jesus told His disciples, ‘Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ Jesus didn’t doubt the disciples’ love for Him or their willingness to serve Him, but He knew they couldn’t do it in their own strength. Without the power of the Holy Spirit within us, we’re not able to overcome the temptations that come our way. We’ll never be exempt from temptation. In fact, becoming a Christian increases the frequency, variety, and intensity of the temptations we face, because the enemy doesn’t give up easily. But we don’t have to ‘fall into’ temptation. The moment it comes along, and before we have time to give in to it, we need to turn to God’s grace. Jesus said, ‘Watch and pray.’ And that’s exactly what we need to do too. We need to be alert so that we’re aware of the areas of our lives where we’re likely to be tempted, and we need to pray for the strength to overcome any temptation we’re facing. If we’ve given in to temptation before, we don’t need to let shame overtake our lives. We can confess it to God, ask for His forgiveness, and then strengthen ourselves so that we avoid giving in to temptation again. When Jesus said these words to the disciples, they had repeatedly given in to the temptation to sleep when Jesus needed them to stay awake and keep watch. Jesus didn’t disown or condemn the disciples, instead He encouraged them and gave them advice. Let’s not write ourselves off just because we’ve given in to temptation before. Let’s allow God to remove our shame and strengthen us ready to face future temptations.
Acts 18-19; Luke 9:37-45; Ps 42:6-11; Prov 16:17-19