We talk often about leaving your past in the past. “Don’t let your past dictate your future,” you’ll hear someone say. Or “Your past doesn’t need to control your present.” Those sentiments are true, but today I want to remind you of the importance of remembering your past with some words from God Himself…
“Don’t take advantage of a stranger.
You know what it’s like to be a stranger; you were strangers in Egypt.”
Exodus 23:9 (The Message)
God was reminding Israel that it would be easy and even tempting at times to take advantage of foreigners in their land. It would be wrong for anyone to do that, but especially for Israel because they used to be the foreigners! In this case, God didn’t want them to forget their past, He wanted their past to help them navigate their future.
Similarly for us, God wants our past B.C. life (Before Christ) to give us compassion on others who don’t yet know Jesus. I call it having “com-past-ion.” Although your tendency may be to be judgmental or condemning toward those still wallowing in sin, have some com-past-ion.
“You know what it’s like” to be in their shoes.
You know the pull of the world and the sway of sin.
You know the struggle of the life without Jesus and how harsh some people can be.
You know the feeling of hopelessness from when you didn’t know Jesus.
Let your past remind you of how to treat people in the present. Love them in ways you weren’t loved and reach out to them when others may overlook them. Often times, we tend to be the harshest toward others who struggle in the areas of our own weaknesses. Let’s respond the other way. Let the areas where we were weak drive us to compassion and empathy toward those who are still in that place. Love them, then watch as God uses your patience and love to change them!
Don’t waste your past. Use it to help others put their present sin in the past!