A passage of scripture I always found intriguing is 2 Samuel 12:20-23, which tells of King David and the consequences he faced for his adultery with Bathsheba. David pleads to God, with deliberate fasting and weeping, to spare the life of the son who resulted from their act together.
But the child does not live, and David’s servants are hesitant to tell him for fear of how much more drastic he might react.
However, instead of wallowing further into depression, the king is said to rise from his prayerful state, clean himself up, worship the Lord, and then take a seat at his table to eat.
Baffled, his servants inquired of his behavior. In summary, his reply was simply that what God had done was final, and there was nothing more he could do to change it. Why dwell on the negative?
David wasn’t insensitive. Of course he was sorrowful and grieving. He had cried and pleaded with God for days in intercession for his child.
Yet, when the Lord’s answer was no and he had to accept the penalty of his sin, he did not allow pain and bitterness to consume his heart; nor did he continue to sink into guilt and shame.
Romans 8:1 (KJV) states, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
Likewise for us, if we continue to look at our problems, circumstances, and personal failures, we miss what God is doing in front of us right now.
He wants us to look forward to and prepare for what He is trying to do in and through us.
The more we dwell on our mistakes, the more we will most likely make.
We are human; it is inevitable. No matter how “good” we try to be, how polished and behaved we think we can act, it isn’t in our flesh to be perfect. The only way to be flawless and righteous in God’s eyes, according to James 2:22-23, is to have faith in Him and His forgiveness to cleanse us and see us through.
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Romans 5:1 KJV).
God isn’t impressed by our self-condemnation. He never asked us to do penance.
He showed us in the Old Testament that He wants His people to have a heart like David, always repenting then getting back up. The Lord did not acknowledge the lies and doubts Abraham acted upon, instead it is stated that he “staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief.”
How can that be so?
|Lookout point in Geirangerfjord, Norway|
God sees the overall picture: He saw Abraham’s heart filled with faith and his desire to be obedient to the Lord.
If we spend all our time looking down at our soiled hands and beat ourselves up for the messes we’ve made, we make Calvary of no effect.
“I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25 ESV).
At the end of the day, it’s what is in our heart that makes the Lord smile in approval or not.
Having the right desire won’t always keep us from discipline. God still chastens His own just like a parent corrects a child in love: If we do wrong, we still have to face the reactions to the seeds we sow.
But our Father is not sitting up on His throne with a chalkboard in hand making tally marks next to our names. He isn’t waiting for an opportunity to write us off.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV): “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
That isn’t a one-time only deal. That verse is just as true and effective every time you read it and every time you stumble.
However, many times when a Christian slips-up, instead of running to the One who wants to dust him off, he hides or pulls away. He thinks he does not deserve the pleasure of grace and thus feels disconnecting himself from it will help him earn it back.
This mentality is a trick of the enemy, for only he wants us to feel bound by our sin and unable to be redeemed. We only end up injuring our spirits further.
But as 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 reminds us, in spite of the weaknesses and vulnerable areas in our lives, God can still use us and count us blameless if we only allow Him to. He can turn our flaws and past errors into testimonies for the benefit of others, and so much more.
He has already forgiven us–the problem is we often cannot forgive ourselves.
We call ourselves unworthy of His love and mercy, or possibly unworthy of true friendship and acceptance among our peers and congregations. We compare our worst to others’ best and we allow the enemy to convince us that we don’t have anything of value to bring to the table.
If we can do more of anything, it would be letting go of the painful memories and mistakes our Lord so desperately is trying to throw in His sea of forgetfulness. We may never forget them, but by committing them to Him, our perspective and how they affect our peace will greatly improve.
“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14 ESV).
Besides those mentioned, there are so many more scriptures entreating us to forget what is behind. His Word tells us to lay everything at the foot of the Cross.
So long as we keep our eyes ahead, locked with the eyes of the One who guarantees so much more for us (both in this life and the one to come) it won’t matter how often we trip.
What really matters is getting Home. That’s the bottom line. If we start focusing on that instead of all our complicated issues, something good is bound to happen…