“Morning by morning, O Lord, you hear my voice”

Psalm 5:3

The Fine Art of Forgetting

(Please read Philippians 3:13-14)

April 21

What did Paul mean by his words here about forgetting? Did he wake up in a new world every day, with all memory of the past erased from his mind?

Well, reason itself tells us that complete loss of memory is not desirable, and surely Paul didn’t mean that the past had totally slipped his mind; in his letters he often mentioned things that had happened to him, as well as recalling old friends in Christ.

But he did deliberately suppress from his mind those memories that would do him harm instead of good. He followed his own advice to think of things that were pure, honest, true, lovely and so on (see Philippians 4:8), crowding out bad memories with good thoughts. And we can do the same.

There are, of course, many things we ought not to forget, such as the debts of gratitude we owe to our parents and to many other people in our lives. And let’s never forget our cleansing from old sins, nor the great price Jesus paid for our redemption.

But we can, and must, forget old quarrels and hurts inflicted by others. A wise Christian once said, correctly, that carrying an old grudge is the hardest work there is. And the silliest, because such a burden achieves nothing good in our lives. We must also put old failures behind us, along with forgiven sins that used to hinder us.

You can think of more situations that you need to forget. With the Lord’s help, you can oust those things and drink more deeply of the happiness that is there for children of God.

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