I believe that when you receive the same message multiple times, God is trying to get your attention. This week, I’ve heard that where I should put my attention is on now – today. I can’t do anything about yesterday – it is done. What happened in the past can be a good learning tool, but living in the past is not what our Lord God calls us to do. I believe wholeheartedly that reliving the pain of yesterday and getting stuck there is not the way to promote the kingdom of God, which is our calling – each of us in different ways as God calls us. You don’t get rid of yesterday by talking about it all of the time; you get rid of its effect on you by moving forward.
Paul writes to the Philippians, “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: 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.” (Phil. 3:13-14) Excellence should be our aim as Christians. Paul writes, “As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.” (1 Thess. 4:1)
Excellence, however, is not perfection. Rather, it defines your movement. Are you moving forward? Are you progressing to be more and more like Jesus Christ? Are you investing in the moment rather than being bound by yesterday or worrying about tomorrow? Excellence means going to the next level. It shows up in little ways more than it does in big ways. It is a pattern, a lifestyle. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)
For many years, C.S. Lewis, the late Cambridge University professor of English literature, was skeptical of Christianity. But in time Lewis became a believer in Jesus Christ and become one of Christianity’s leading apologists or defenders of the faith. Lewis was a prolific writer who delighted in a bit of humor or sarcasm.
In one of his most popular books, The Screwtape Letters, Lewis pictures a demon in hell by the name of Screwtape, writing to his nephew Wormwood. Uncle Screwtape is constantly telling his nephew how to be a better demon and do a better job destroying people on earth. In one of his letters Uncle Screwtape gives the following advice in telling Wormwood how to deceive men on earth:
“My dear Wormwood: Our business is to get them [meaning humans] away from the eternal and from the present. With this in view, we sometimes tempt a human (say a widow or a scholar) to live in the past…. It is far better to make them live in the future. In a word the future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity. It is the most completely temporal part of time.”
Lewis points out a real truth in suggesting that there is a real devil who is more than a figment of the imagination; he is the enemy of our souls. Lewis is right in saying that the devil’s business is to make you center on thoughts of the past and of the future, but not of today or eternity. Why is that? There is good reason for it. When you live in the past, you do nothing about your life today. On the other hand, when you live in the sweet by‑and‑by world of tomorrow, you close your life to TODAY. And when it is all said and done, today is the only time you can do anything about eternity.
Jesus taught that you must live in neither the past nor the future, but He urged us to live today fully in the light of eternity. He says that your major concern in life should not be worrying about your bills, or your appearance, or what may happen to you tomorrow.
Worry saps your energy and spiritual strength. The Bible says that God already knows the things you need even before you bother to ask Him. About our lives today, Christ said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). Don’t worry at all, then, about tomorrow. Tomorrow can take care of itself. One day’s trouble is enough for one day.
Writing to the people consumed with thoughts of tomorrow, Paul wrote, “Working together with Him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says, ‘In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.’ Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:1-2) Tomorrow is uncertain‑‑it is beyond your grasp. When the sun sets, you cannot turn back the clock because the past is a closed chapter. But today is yours to use to the glory of God. Use it wisely, for it is the only day in the world you can do anything about. “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)