Monday, May 14, 2012

Glory Days

Most of us like the relive our so-called glory days.  This is especially true for men.  We talk about those times before Christ, about how low we were, about what sins we committed, and do so in a boastful way.  I, myself, fall into this sometimes and I really need to catch myself.  The fact is that we should not look towards our past as some measure of personal glory, but only to the glory of God that er are not that person anymore. 
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.  1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NKJV
I was just about all of those things at one point in my life or another.  Many of us were.  I do not understand why we have this need to brag about it.  I know, I have been there.  I have talked about how much I used to drink or what kind of parties I have been to.  I talk as though they are good things and wonderful memories of times past.  Many of you do the same.  This should never be!  Why would we glory in a past that was an abomination to God?  Why should we talk positively about our rebellion?  Why should we celebrate those things in our live that sent Jesus to the cross?  When I was a slave to sin, I was a wonderful sinner.  Should I be happy about that? 

The fact of the matter is that it seems as though many of us are.  Every time we look back longingly or with joy at who we used to be, we make the same mistake of Lot's wife who looked back upon Sodom and Gomorrah as they were being destroyed longing for the life she would no longer have.  We should never be happy about the things we used to do.  We should never look back at all the "fun" our sin was.  We should be appalled and disgusted by the things we used to do.  We should be forever thankful that we are no longer slaves to those wretched things that separated us from the God we claim to love.  We should be horrified not boastful at how far we fell when living only for the flesh.  Our pasts are nothing to be proud of.  If they were so good, then why did we need Jesus to free us from them in the first place? 

Bragging about our past also makes it more difficult to have a testimony.  How can you preach the abundant life in Jesus Christ if you keep talking so positively about your life before Christ?  How can you share the joy of the Lord if you talk about missing those things that you used to do?  Of course, these questions are rhetorical as the answer is obvious.  You can not share the amazing things the Lord is doing in your heart and life if you keep glorying about the old heart and life.  In a sense, your Gospel message becomes the parody that Christianity is about a boring life missing all the things that the world thinks you need in order to enjoy your life.  You teach that coming to Jesus means a boring life.  I am sure that anyone reading this who has experience the joy of the Lord knows how completely untrue that is, but that is the image we give whenever we look back longingly on times past.

We really need to put our past in perspective.  Yes, it happened.  Yes, at the time much of what you did seemed fun.  However, what you gave up for Christ only led to greater joys than you ever had before.  You really did not leave anything behind, but simply moved forward into much greater and more fulfilling things.  What does being drunk have to compare to being filled with the spirit?  What does revelry have to compare with being caught up in worship to our God?  What does any of those old sinful things have to offer that can compare to living a life filled with the Holy Spirit, following our Lord, and looking forward to a glorious eternity?  We should not look back to the past as though we want to go there, but thanking God that He took us out of there!   The only boasting about our past should be in our God who saved us, cleansed us, freed us from the bondage of sin, and gave us a new and better life in Him.  We should not be living as though we wish we could be what we once were, but thanking God that we are no longer that person or living that life.  We should not be looking back to a time when we were living in death awaiting our judgement but we should be looking to now in our time of true life and looking forward to our reward.

Please, let's stop bragging about how bad we were and start glorifying God at how much we have grown and changed.  Let's not look to our pasts for memories of good times but look forward to the glorious promise that awaits us.  We should not have a desire to be what we once were nor should we act like those were better times.  We are living as children of God, destined to reign with Christ, and promised an eternal life in paradise.  What could we have ever done in our lives that can compare to that?  If that is not your joy, your hope, and the reason that you live, then you really need to check your heart.  Jesus did not come into your heart to take something away but to free you to do something incomparably better.  Praise God I am not who I was and that I will never be that same person again.  I hope you can say the same.
But Jesus said to him, "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."  Luke 9:62 NKJV

"The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have [it] more abundantly. " John 10:10 NKJV

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