The scenario is so fresh for me. I just did something I had to do. It went with my responsibility as a leader. The problem is I did not do it in the best way. That, for me, is hard to live with—especially when I have hurt another (whom I happen to love dearly) in the process.
We think about it. We have our reasons, an excuse. But it doesn’t help in the gut of our being. Nor does it stop the effect of the hormones our brain releases which wreak havoc with our body. No deep sleep. A mind that won’t shut off, that wakes you up and wants to rehearse the scenario again and again. A weight on your chest. You know the proverbial 800-pound gorilla.
No excuse justifies our action. If we have a thread of conscience, we know we’re responsible for our actions and accountable to God—the One in whom we live, move and have our being; and we are accountable to the Body of Christ.
So what do we do now? How do we live through our failures, our mistakes, our ineptness—our sins? Did you notice I said through? Some think or feel they can’t live through it, so they end their lives. Others believe they have to live “with” it.
Consequently “it” becomes a distant but ever-ready black cloud on the horizon of life, ready to obliterate the warmth and delight of the sun with the slightest change in the wind of thoughts that unexpectedly blows our way.
If you know the Word of God, you immediately know what to do with your sins. We confess them, name them for what they are. And God does what He promises—He forgives! 1 John 1:9-10 tells us He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. There! It’s done! Over. Our sins are buried in the deepest ocean (no fishing allowed), removed as far as the east from the west, remembered by God no more. Thus we move forward.
Yes, ideally that’s what we do. But we live in a body with a mind and its memories, plus an enemy who is a liar, a murderer and a destroyer with fiery darts. On top of that, we may have a “Job’s friend” who feels it his or her duty to constantly remind us of our great failure.
As I considered all this and prayed for you, I thought it would be good to study this matter with you this month; to observe the Word of God and see what He says. So, assuming we have done the first two things: asked God’s forgiveness and asked forgiveness from the one(s) we hurt or failed, how do we handle our mind and get the weight off our chest?
Let’s go to Philippians, the book of joy. Joy is what we need, isn’t it? The key words in Philippians are these: joy (rejoice), mind (attitude), Jesus … and gospel. Read Philippians 4:4-9, which is printed below, and color code or mark the following: rejoice, mind (dwell) and Lord (all references to Jesus).
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!
5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Now study what you marked. What did you learn from marking rejoice? When are you to rejoice? I mark references to time, things that tell me when, with a green circle like a clock.
If you will read through Philippians now or later you will see that joy (rejoice) is mentioned in all four chapters. And where was the Apostle Paul when he wrote this powerful letter? In prison for the Gospel! And what is he doing? Rejoicing, as the Spirit of God tells us through Paul. And why is Paul able to do this? Read Philippians and mark mind and attitude. Again you’ll see that Paul had one passion: christlikeness (Philippians 1:21), being everything God won for him in raising Jesus from the dead—and Paul with Him (Philippians 3:8-11, Romans 6:4-10).
Had Paul arrived? Was he perfect? Did he do everything just as Jesus would have him do? No. Paul tells us he had not yet attained perfection (Philippians 3:12). But he was doing the one thing which would help him move forward:
13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,
14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Paul forgets the past. The past is past and will never be changed. Why focus on what cannot be changed? Why dwell on what only makes you miserable? It is forgiven by God. And because God is God and sovereign, it can be redeemed if we will believe Him and press on (Romans 8:28-30).
Look at Philippians 4:6-9, and mark peace with a smiley face or color code it light blue.
When you wake up or when you try to go to sleep and you are anxious, what should you do? First, pray (Philippians 4:6). The word proseuche is general prayer. Rehearse who God is, what He has done, what He is able to do. Second, bring your supplications (specific requests) to Him. Third, thank Him. And fourth, “Philippians 4:8″ every thought. If it doesn’t meet the criteria of Philippians 4:8, then reject the thought—as often as necessary. Dwell, ponder, think on these things and practice what Paul did (Philippians 4:9), and the God of peace will be with you.
Even though you failed, Beloved, God is not finished with you. If He were, He would take you Home. You are still here. Rejoice, forget and press on.
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