The next several posts will be focusing on joy from the book of Philippians.
Christians can have extraordinary joy by not dwelling on the past, but by looking forward to the future.
Many times, Christians will focus on their past allowing those sins committed to hide the joy from their lives. If you are a person who is prone to dwell on those mistakes of the past, if you can’t let that go even though God has forgiven you, you are going to miserable. Faithful Christians have that assurance that God has forgiven us! God offers us a brand new start, a clean beginning as a Christian. The world doesn’t give us such an opportunity, the world consistently wants to remind us of all our mistakes and short comings, but a child of God has forgiveness and a God who will forget.
Ph. 3:13 “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; (Paul knew he had not reached perfection) but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Jesus Christ.”
When we think of Paul, and his ability of having joy, looking back at his past would definitely be something that would keep joy from him. What did Paul have to forget about? A lot, actually. What about Stephen? Do you think Paul could remember standing there, with the clothes of others at his feet, while watching and consenting Stephen be stoned to death? Do you think Paul ever had memories of the Christian families he had committed to prison just because they believed on some man called Jesus? Acts 8:3 says “as for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.” Can you imagine the memories of the past Paul had? However he chose to look forward instead of behind. Paul says – I’m not perfect, but this one thing I do – forgetting and pressing forward.
We must remember that if we are willing to repent, then God is willing to forget. Jesus said in Luke 9:62 “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” We can’t look back, with guilt, with regret, or with longing eyes, at our lives of sin.
Your past is not your past if you are still allowing it to impact your present.
How wonderful that we can have joy by not dwelling on our past.