Although I’ve never attended one of my high school reunions, I’ve heard about them! My friends have told me about classmates who still look the way they always did and about others whose personalities haven’t changed at all. They also report that others are larger — or balder! — and almost unrecognizable. Also, and sadly, some who enjoyed success during their high school years have gone the way of alcoholism, suffered disabilities, and encountered other tragedies.

The past. It makes us who we are. It teaches us lessons about God, about life, and about ourselves. We learn volumes from what lies behind. But our learning must not stop there. We must then take those lessons and move ahead. This is exactly the truth the apostle Paul teaches:

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14 niv).

Forgetting what lies behind is not always easy. Your marriage may be plagued by memories of past sin, hurtful words, betrayals, or times when you’ve been let down. Note what Paul says in the verses above — the word “forgetting” is in the present tense. You see, forgetting is not an act done once and for all. Instead, like Paul, we must keep on forgetting those things in the past that hold us back. Paul didn’t want to rest on his past accomplishments, and neither should we. And Paul didn’t want his past mistakes to keep him from moving on, and neither should we.

The past is over. It is no longer real. So don’t dwell on it. And don’t let it hold you back. Forget whatever would keep you and your spouse from moving forward in faith and in your spiritual growth. Look at the past only to remember God’s role in the problems and pain of yesterday — to recall His presence, His faithfulness, His compassion, and His gracious provision in times of trial.

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God’s love for you accomplished the forgiveness of your sin, your cleansing, your new birth, and your fresh start. Sure, consequences of your actions may remain, but the sin itself ”Š”Šis forgiven. You are covered and cleansed by Christ’s precious blood. You can, therefore, go on with your life…without shame and without being held back. And you can show your love for God by refusing to dwell on what He has removed and taken care of. When your past sin comes to mind, acknowledge God’s forgiveness, thank Him profusely, and move on with praise and thanksgiving.

Lord, You have forgiven us and made us new in Christ. May we rejoice in Your provision and faithfulness!

Adapted from A Couple After God’s Own Heart.
Copyright © 2013 Jim & Elizabeth George, published by Harvest House, used with permission, all rights reserved.