I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:10-14 NLT
“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it” (Winston Churchill).
On the surface, it would appear that there is a contradiction to what Paul is saying and what Churchill said (hundreds of years later)–but is there really? On the one hand Paul is telling us to forget the past–all the wrongs committed by us or against us before we knew Christ and look ahead–focused on Jesus. And on the other hand–Churchill reminds us to remember–all those things that led us into precarious situations and learn from them so we don’t do them again.
If we really look at what is being said and the context in which it is said, there is no contradiction–but a concern–expressed to help us to keep moving forward.
Holding onto to past hurts and never forgiving others–keeps us in a holding pattern and for some–in a rut–stuck in the past and never able to move forward. We are reminded in God’s Word to let go–of those things that burden us–and keep us from achieving what God has planned for us. I can say–without hesitation–that keeping things bottled inside because of something that happened in the past causes more damage–physically, emotionally and spiritually–than it ever helps.
So what if someone hurt your feelings? So what if they stole from you? So what if you didn’t get the job you wanted? If we allow hurt feelings to get in our way or keep us from living a full life–the only person we’re hurting is us. People–bad people–steal from others all the time, but things can be replaced, so we must keep moving forward and not allow that deter us from receiving God’s best. And yes, many of us have been overlooked for positions we wanted and were qualified to do, but perhaps–just perhaps–those who overlooked us did us a favor by freeing us to receive what God has for us.
But what we must remember–not holding grudges–is to think about what led us into the predicament with an open mind, so we can learn what not to do. If someone hurt our feelings–how did we get to that place? Was it because of our misplaced trust–low self-esteem or simply being naive? If they stole from us–was it because of our negligence in securing what belonged to us? If we were overlooked for a position–was it because we trusted mere mortals more than God? Did we seek Him–and His wisdom in making all decisions? If we are not able to “study” what we’ve done in the past, we’ll never learn from it and will–keep repeating the past–ensuring the same results. And this is what Churchill was talking about–in the broader sense of what leads to wars and loss of life.
What did we learn from history about racial equality? Did slavery–treating other human beings as sub-humans not teach us anything about the fact that none of us are superior to another? Did we not learn from the past that in any society, women should be treated with equality–same pay and respect shown to men? Did we not learn that words have power and we should watch what we say about and to others? Must we continue on a merry-go-around that is moving faster with each generation–trying to hold onto to myths about people–until we are flung off because of our pride? We cannot keep doing the same foolish things over and over expecting different results–which is the definition of insanity (Einstein).
It’s time for us to get off the merry-go-round of life holding onto misguided beliefs about people that do nothing to unite us as human beings, but do everything to keep us from grasping and achieving what God wants for us. Let’s learn–from past histories and yesterdays–how to treat each other with loving kindness so we can forego all the bitterness that is bound to occur when we refuse to learn from the past.Let’s move on–looking forward to all the great things God has in store for us.