Sunday, October 4, 2015

Forgetting What is Behind

"Whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ... that I may gain Christ and be found in Him."  (Philippians 3:7,9)

Those are the words of someone who knew exactly what he wanted out of life.  And he was focused- he wasn't going to let anything get in the way of attaining "the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus"-- including his past.  And Paul had a pretty difficult past to overcome: he was guilty of overseeing the deaths of the very people he was now trying to minister to.  Talk about baggage!  But he was determined that his past would not disqualify him, either from the GRACE and love that Jesus offers. 

Last Sunday Caz went over three areas that keep us tied to our past:
       GUILT  (over past sins)
       RESENTMENT  (towards others who have hurt us)
       REGRET  (over circumstances or mistakes we've made)

I have to admit that in my life, I have wasted much time and energy on all three of these-- mostly, regretting mistakes that I've made-- because the way I'm wired, mistakes are terrible and most mistakes were my fault and could have been avoided, if only....  Can anyone relate?

The wonderful thing about Christianity is that in our faith, REDEMPTION  is a very big word.  There is nothing in your history, in your life, that cannot be redeemed... as long as we're willing to give it to Him to work with.   All three of the problems that Caz mentioned have "antidotes" to them.   (I think of them as antidotes because these three- guilt, resentment, anger-- are poisons.  They poison our spirits, our minds, and everyone around us.)  The antidote to guilt is repentance-- available to all of us, regardless of what we've done.  "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins."  (1 John 1:9)   The antidote to resentment is forgiveness-- letting go and freeing yourself of bitterness that will poison everything in your life.   And regret has an antidote too- I love this one:  hope.  Hope!   In the life of a Christian, there is always hope-- because anything can be redeemed that we give to God.   HOPE tells me that going over my regrets, my mistakes, is a waste of time and actually dishonors God (as if my mistakes are too much for Him to handle?)

If you are one of those people, like me, who has spent too much time focusing on your past, your mistakes, regrets, whatever, I have a suggestion.  Every time as regret comes into your mind, and you hear the words, "If only..."  stop listening!  And instead replace those sorry, disabling words with two other words:   "BUT NOW!"   Now you are a "new creature in Christ."  Now your past does not have to define you.   Now you have unlimited possibilities... to experience GRACE and LIFE lived to the fullest- which is what Jesus promised us.

~Pastor Rick