Okay, well maybe you have heard it before. But have you truly “heard” it? You see, Jesus even often said, “whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” What did He mean by that? Was He poking fun at someone in the audience who may have been born with an auditory defect? Last I checked, He didn’t make that statement when Peter hacked off Malchus’ ear either. So what did Jesus mean?
He was speaking of the genuine, willful, obedient, “be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” type of hearing. So, If you are of the persuasion that feels they have heard this before, but are still spitefully holding on to yesterday (or yesteryear), then I say to you by the authority of Christ’s words that you’ve never heard this before, but here goes… Leave The Past Behind.
Wait! Isn’t that one thing? Well, yes. It is one statement, but it has three important things in it for us to remember:
THING 1: LEAVE
Yes, “leave”. Now am I telling someone who is in a type of relationship that might be troubled but does not dishonor God (you know, a marriage) to just walk away from it? No! You see, walking away is the easy thing to do these days. If your marriage doesn’t make you happy, get a new one. Why try to fix it? That is the weak mindset of many today. But that dishonors God and therefore is not what I am speaking of.
Yet if you simply will not be intimately involved with your mate, then be man or woman enough to make a decision to actually leave. You see, some people leave by staying too. They won’t forgive, they won’t forget, they won’t actually walk away, but their hearts are on the other side of the world. They refuse to physically leave, yet they mentally, spiritually, and emotionally leave you hanging while they remain in close enough proximity to show you their resentment and disdain for you.
Such people only want to see you suffer. So, if you continually try to reconcile with them, but they show no interest in letting bygones be bygones, then you have to free yourself from the prison they are trying to keep you in by lovingly, joyfully going on with your life. All you need to leave alone is bitterness and spite. However, if physical and/or mental abuse is present, or other dangerous factors exist, then you must get out of that situation and get help.
But be sure to always love your enemies, do good to and pray for them that hate and despise you; these are the words of Jesus (Matthew 5:44). You heard?
THING 2: THE PAST
There are two absolute truths about the past that apply to everyone: (1) It is not the present, and (2) It is not the future. Therefore, when you take the past and try to make it worth holding onto today, all you do is push the present into the future, and you never really move on. And this even holds true for the good things about the past. Yes, if you have accomplished or experienced some really good stuff in the past, and all you can think about is how good it was, you will begin to limit your potential to experience anything better.
But it is much more devastating when you decide to hold on to past hurts. Why? Because they breed bitterness. And bitterness breeds sickness or disease, and, in some cases, even death. God designed us to move forward. Its one of the reasons we have eyes in the front of our heads. But even more importantly, we must realize that hope is always out in front, and that without it, life becomes all but pointless. We can live productive lives without a lot of things, but not without some kind of hope! Dwelling on the past makes one hopeless.
Remember the woman caught in adultery who was brought to Jesus (John 8:1-11)? She was about to be stoned; her situation was hopeless. After Jesus dealt with her accusers, causing them to walk away, He told her that He didn’t condemn her either, and to go and sin no more. You see, Jesus left the woman’s past in the past, and completely exonerated her, giving her hope for a better more beautiful life, and He told us to do likewise. You heard?
THING 3: BEHIND
“So, Keith, you’re basically saying that we should act as if nothing bad ever happened to us then, huh?” Well, yes and no. Yes, you should eventually get to a place in life that you are not living as if someone is mistreating you if they are not, or where life is not as bad as it used to be if it is not. But no, I am not saying that you will ever be able to completely forget what went wrong. However, there is a God who loves you and who longs for you to cast all of your care upon Him. He is perfectly capable of restoring the years the locusts have eaten. When you try to hold on to those years, your life essentially becomes moth-eaten. You presently have no great prospects for the future because you have not left the past behind.
Why did Jesus urge people to “Come to me all who are thirsty, and drink,” or “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden [and find rest],” what was it all for? It was because He knew that only He (as God) was the only one who had the power to take our past, no matter how bad its been, and put it behind us in such a way that it would not hinder us presently and destroy our future. Have you heard?
I repeat that “you heard” question because we have all heard a million times that we should leave the past behind. But how many of us truly do it? The ones who do, are the ones who not only have ears to hear, but actually hear (or heed) this valuable and timeless three-fold piece of advice. And when they do, things begin to be happier and newer for them than ever before. Stop limiting your life’s potential by holding on to yesterday! You were made for so much more!
The best is waiting for you to find, if you choose to leave the past behind.