As a windshield installer, one of the things that I am often asked to do is to glue the rear view mirror back on to a windshield when it has fallen off. Have you ever driven a car without a rear view mirror? It can be uncomfortable. Why do cars have a rear view mirror? Sometimes we need to know what is behind us.
Do we need a spiritual rear view mirror? Yes, I think we need to know what is behind us. When Moses was presenting the Feast of Unleavened Bread to his people he said in Exodus 13:3, “Remember this day in which you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out of this place”. After presenting the particulars of the feast he then said in verse 8, “And you shall tell your son in that day, saying, ‘This is done because of what the Lord did for me when I came up from Egypt”.
It is important for us to look back and see what God has done for us in the past. It gives us something to base our belief on. God wants us to remember. The word remember is used 230 times in the New King James Version of the Bible.
The first time it was used was in the story of Noah. Genesis 9:13-16 tells us, “I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever … the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant… Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and … the earth.”
Whenever you see a rainbow it is a glance in the rear view mirror that tells you that God made a promise and you can be sure he will keep it.
In Psalms 105:5 it says, “Remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth”. Just like a quick glance in the rear view mirror of your car can put your mind at ease, remembering what God has done for us is very reassuring.
A rear view mirror is great for checking out what is happening behind you, but there is something that a rear view mirror isn't good for. Would you want to be on the road with me if I spent all of my time looking in the rear view mirror? That would be very dangerous. It is also dangerous in our spiritual lives if we spend all of our time in the past.
In Philippians 3:13-14, Paul tells us, “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”.
Paul says that the first step in pressing forward is forgetting what is behind. We are to remember what God has done for us in the past, but we are to forget our own past.
The past can be a terrible enemy. John MacArthur said in reference to Paul's statement in Philippians 3:13: "Churches are full of spiritual cripples, paralyzed by the grudges, bitterness, sins, and tragedies of the past”.
Writer Max Lucado likens holding a grudge to being in quicksand. When we hold a grudge, we just can't seem to get out of its grasp. The more we think about it and struggle with it the more we sink, and the deeper we go. I really think that the only way we can get ourselves of the quicksand of holding a grudge is through the power of God. Paul writes in Ephesians 4:26,27, "Don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a mighty foothold to the devil.
Our conflict with the devil is hard enough without us intentionally giving him a mighty foothold. Don’t spend your time looking in the rear view mirror at all of the wrongs that have been done to you.
The Bible makes it clear that the Christian should forgive, not hold grudges. Matthew 6:14-15 states, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Can forgiveness change the past? No. What will forgiveness do? It sets us free from the past so we can move into the future. Isn't that what God wants? He wants us to forget what lies behind and reach forward to what lies ahead.
Sometimes I think that the only thing harder than forgiving is to accept forgiveness. When I was growing up in Colorado, my pastor was Pastor George. I can still remember him teaching on the scripture 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. 1 John 1:9 became my favorite verse.
Over the years I have come to realize that there is a problem with this verse. The problem is not actually with the verse, but that many Christians don’t believe it. They say they believe, but their actions show they don’t feel forgiven.
Isaiah 43:25 tells us that God blots out our sins, and will not remember them. Psalms 103:12 tells us that God has removed our sins from us as far as the east is from the west. Micah 7:19 says that God will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.
When you are forgiven God has blotted out your sins, He has removed them as far as the east is from the west, He has cast them into the depths of the sea. Don’t be looking in your rear view mirror for them.
We need to learn how to properly use our rear view mirror. Look back at how God has led in our life, and how he has blessed us. Don’t look back at our sins that God has promised to forgive as we forgive those who have sinned against us.