Live today in such a way that you are looking towards tomorrow, but not living there. Many times Christians find themselves living in one of two places. They are either living their life in the future (when I get married, when I have kids, when the kids are grown, when I make more money) or living chained to their past. Both hurt today. In doing so, they are neglecting what God has called them to do in the present.
Ephesians 4:21-24 (NIV)
21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like righteousness and holiness.
Everyone has a past. I know you think for some reason yours somehow disqualifies you more than someone else. In case you forgot who wrote the book of Ephesians, let me remind you. Ephesians was written by a man who was once known as Saul, a chief persecutor of Christians.
I understand there may be constant reminders of your past.
1. Learn from your past.
Take a lesson from your past but don’t let your past define who you are today and don’t let it define who you will be tomorrow.
There’s an open road ahead. Don’t spend all your time looking to what’s behind.
We can all look to our past and see a lifestyle that doesn’t make us proud. We’ve all done things we wish we would never have done. The enemy loves to bind us with those things. He’s continuously tapping us on the shoulder saying turnaround and look back from where you came. I say give thanks to God that you aren’t still there. I say thank God for his grace that says you don’t have to go back there again. It’s ok to look back occasionally if in doing so it’s to give thanks or to learn from our mistakes. We need to learn from our past so that we don’t have to be taught the same lessons over and over again, but we can’t let it paralyze our today.
2. Look to the future without living in it.
Although we long for those things promised (as we should), we can not live in the future. Everything we do needs to point to the future and our eternal destination. Unfortunately what we tend to do is try and live our life there before we arrive. Too many times we want to avoid the process. I may want to go to Disney, but I don’t just get there without traveling.
How about the workplace? Ever had a job where you just started and within a short period, you catch yourself saying things like if I was in charge, this is how I would do it? While there’s nothing wrong with new ideas, we must be careful about our attitude.
When God calls you to a specific ministry or field of work you don’t just start without some preparation. The disciples walked with Jesus for 3 years and were filled with the Spirit before they were entrusted with the church. After Paul’s encounter with Christ, it’s believed he went into the wilderness for three years and before that he was a teacher of the law. There’s a process. Many times though I see people expect that as soon as God calls they are automatically ready. There is a preparation period for anything. We all must go through it.
If he has called you to be a doctor that’s awesome, but guess what? He’s also called you to medical school.
We need to live our lives expectantly, awaiting the fulfillment of God’s promises, looking to the future while living in today.
Choose today to put on the new self.