“Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’” (Luke 9:62, NIV84)
Looking back is a dangerous thing! We learn from the Old Testament that Lot’s wife looked back toward Sodom and Gomorrah and was turned into a pillar of salt. Paul says in one of his letters, “one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind I strain forward.” And here in our text for today Jesus tells us that those who look back are not fit for service in the kingdom of God. He uses the imagery of a man working a plow. A man running a plow is required to look straight ahead to ensure that He is guiding the animals in front of him properly. If he were constantly looking back, there would be no way to keep the plow from straying. So, if you hear anything in this devotion today, hear me say that you need to be careful of the past and keep your focus and vision forward.
Why do we have to be careful of the past? Because it has only one valuable purpose and after that it becomes a tool of the devil. The past is something that must be looked at in order to properly repent of wrongs done and find forgiveness in the Cross of Jesus Christ. We need to learn from the past so we might live a transformed future. Satan does two things with the past that we must avoid. First, he causes us to feel that the past defines our present and future. It’s the idea that this is all there is, and there can’t be anything else. A life looking back in this way would be like living the movie “Groundhog Day.” You’d just keep reliving the same thing over and over again because the past would be defining the present and future. Second, Satan wants us to dwell in the past so that we might wallow in guilt and never live in the freedom of the forgiveness Jesus won for us on the cross. Guilt is a miserable motivator for change. Guilt causes us to feel defeated before we begin.
There is one more thing to avoid when dealing with the past. We must avoid the temptation that maybe the grass was greener and life wasn’t so bad back then. The children of Israel, while wandering in the desert, at times began to reflect on their lives in Egypt and wondered whether it wasn’t all that bad. It was that bad!!!! The new life we have in Christ can never be compared to the life of the past. We must keep our sights and focus ahead of us. We must forget the past and strain forward toward the kingdom of God and all it has for us.
Today, let’s avoid the pitfalls of the past and stay focused on what lies ahead!