Sunday November 3, 2019
If You Only Do One Thing Your Whole Life, Do This
The church at Philippi was the very first church to be established by Paul in Europe (Acts.16). His relationship with the church was close and personal. This letter is a “thank you” letter for the financial gift the sent to him while imprisoned in Rome. The abiding message of Philippians is Christian joy…joy from fellowship with the Lord…joy from the power of the Lord, and joy from looking ahead with expectation to the coming of the Lord.
But in order to look ahead one must stop looking behind. This one thing I do. What an amazing statement. This one thing I do. Paul is completely single-minded. He does not allow himself to be distracted from his purpose. How did he do that? By not looking back. Simple…or is it?
We have a memory and the enemy loves to use that memory against us. He does that by reminding us of past failures, recalling deep hurts and rejections. He constantly recites a litany of all our past sins. You see, Satan tries to destroy our future with our past.
But Paul has an answer…forget it! Forget what lies behind. The word forget means, “to lose out of mind; to neglect; no longer care for. We are commanded to stop caring for and nurturing our past. We are told to neglect those thoughts and memories, and allow God to replace them with thoughts of the future…thoughts of eternity. This is such an important and powerful aspect of our lives with Jesus. In fact, He declared,
But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Lk.9:62)
We all know the story of Lot’s wife who was turned into a pillar of salt when she looked back. (Gen.19:15-26). Given how Jesus uses her example (Lk.17:29-32…”Remember Lot’s wife,”) it is very likely that her ‘looking back’ was both physical and symbolic…rather than looking forward to the new life she was receiving from God, she worried instead about what she was losing, even though what she was losing was life in a sinful, godless place…a place of sin. (See WORD WISDOM for a deeper study of looking)
Isaiah tells us that we are to “forget the shame of our youth” and “remember it no more.” (Is.54:4) We are to experience any shame, humiliation, or disgrace. Now we are to feel conviction about what we have done, but not condemnation. The very next verse declares,
For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is His name; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth. (Is.54:5)
He redeemed us from our past and rescued us from its power and pull! That is so worth doing Paul’s “one thing!”
The writer of Hebrews commands us to “leave the elementary teachings” and go on to maturity (Heb.6:1). Go told Moses to instruct the Israelites to “move on” (Ex.14:15). In fact, when they grumbled against God and desired to go back to Egypt, many were destroyed! (Num.14:1-4, 26-29).
Why is looking back such a potentially destructive thing? Why does is so disappoint God? Because He has a destiny for us…He calls it a “future and a hope.” (Jer.29:11) The Lord does not promise a past and despair…He promises a victorious future and a living hope. Why would we ever want to look back?
Before us there is a crown of glory, a future, and a hope. There is victory over sin and death. There is an assurance of perfect and eternal freedom from all evil. Our eyes should desire to gaze upon that beauty, and that beauty alone. This one thing, I do. Amen.