“TO REMEMBER OR TO FORGET”                     By Pastor YAU

Text: Philippians 1:3-11                                            September 30, 2007.

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)   Able to forget: In a cold and dreary winter day, a funeral was being conducted at a small church. During the eulogy, the widow began to sob loudly. When the pastor came to speak, these were his first few words, “That’s okay. Someday you’ll be able to forget.” Able to forget her husband? The widow’s expression made it clear that she had no desire to forget her husband and all the memories about him. Cherished memories of her husband provided comfort and joy she intended to cling to, anticipating a heavenly reunion someday.

2)   Able to remember: One of the precious gifts God has given us is the ability to remember. In each and every life, there are plenty of hurts and disappointments we need to forget. But there are many good and cherished memories we want to remember. These are like treasure chests of priceless reminders of joy, relationships we will never forget. There are experiences we always want to keep. As Paul said to the Christians at Philippi: “I thank my God every time I remember you in my prayers.” (Phil. 1:3)

 

PROBLEMS OF HUMAN MEMORY:

1)     We remember the bad too long: With no exception, we remember bad experiences lot better, longer and hold stronger ill feelings against those who inflicted harm on us. We don’t need experts of psychology to tell us this fact. Our higher intellect tells us that this is a bad habit and we need to have radical change but we still cling to the hurting memories and those who did them. That’s why in human arguments, we can recall bad memories decades ago and bring them back like they have just happened yesterday. This kind of practice can only destroy relationships, warp the issue at the moment and overshadow the good side of life.

2)     We forget the good too soon: Again, with little exception, we incline to forget all the good things people had done to us and those who did them. We have a tendency to take all these for granted. We have a problem in out attitude to those who have contributed to the good life  and the achievements we have now. We tend to put most, if not all, credits of success to our hard work, smart and timely choices and luck. Many times we forget those who helped us to become who we are today. We also tend to forget many of the good things in life we have like health, family, opportunity and success. Our pessimistic attitude often chokes us from experiencing joy of life for all the good things we now have.

3)     We forget lessons too fast: Every life event leaves lessons for us for the future. We suppose to learn and remember the lessons in each of the experience we have, especially when we stumbled and failed. The benefits of studying history, personal or otherwise, is to learn lessons, good or bad, so we won’t repeat the same mistakes  again. Most people have short memories on lessons they learned in the past. That’s why many people repeat the same mistakes again and again. If we can just remember history and lessons of the past, we may be able to avoid many pitfalls and the waste of time and opportunities otherwise we may use them for more success and joy.

4)     We keep memories forever: There are many good things in babies we wish we could have. One of them is they forget very easily. Very few people could remember things in their life before they turned two years old. As we grow older, memories stay with us forever. That is why we can forgive those who have done hurt to us but it is impossible to forget those heart-breaking moments. Others are hounded by terrible experience in the past such as war-zone exposure or other traumatic past. Scars in the past could jeopardize our present life, marriages and even productivity. Memory of the past is a double edged sward. It may make you better or worse depending on the nature of the memory and your determination to work out their influence on your life.

THE MEMORIES OF PAUL: What can we learn from him?

1)    His memory is full of thanksgiving: “I thank my God every time I remember you.” (1:3)When Paul remembered the Philippians, he had so much to be thankful of: the opportunity to know them and to serve the Lord with them. He channeled his thanksgiving from people to God and that is what we need to do about our memory of people: be thankful to God.

2)    His memory is full of joy: “In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy.” (1:4)Knowing that no church is a perfect church, the church at Philippi must have things that might cause Paul to worry or even feel sad. But Paul chose to remember those things and moments that brought him joy. This is not about self deceiving or to turn a blind eye. It is a matter of choice what we choose to remember. Be joyful on your memory.

3)    His memory is about missions: “Because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” (1:5)What Paul remembered about them was the partnership they had in spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul called them “partners” in the gospel ministry. It is a huge honor to be called “partners” of Paul. We are all partners in God’s service.

4)    His memory is full of confidence: “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in your will carry it on to completion.” (1:6)How do you generate good memories? Paul did it by placing his confidence in the Christians in Philippi. Paul trusted them because he trusted Christ Jesus. Trust is an important element on good memories.

5)    His memory is deep in his heart: “It is right for me to feel this way about all of you since I have you in my heart.” (1:7)Paul’s memory of the Christians was not of lip service but a heart felt emotion that brought him confidence and joy. Be genuine when we remember people and what they mean to us.

6)    His memory is full of affection. “God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Jesus Christ.” (1:8)Affection is a rare commodity in modern day life. Many people don’t have any or don’t know how to express it even when they have some. It is that strong emotional power of love we have for people whom we love and care so much. Memory with affection is worthy of remember.

7)    His memory is full of prayer: “And this is my prayer: your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.” (1:9)Real good Christian memory is more than human emotion but with spiritual sustenance. Paul sustained his memory of the church at Philippi by praying for them constantly and lovingly. If you truly love a person, you will always remember him/her in your prayers.

8)    His memory is to glorify God: “So that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.” (1:10-11)Paul’s good memory about this church is full of facts: their growth in the past and their possible growth in the future and all are for the glory of God, not for Paul, the founder of that church. It is a good feeling when we remember the good fruits those whom we remember have brought to God and the potential of their future fruit bearing.

THINGS TO REMEMBER:

1)    Remember God’s benefits: “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.” (Psalm 103:2)This is the prayer of one of the most beloved and honored men in the Bible, King David. He gives God his praise and tells his soul not to forget all the good things God has bestowed on him. This is also what we need to do: do not, or never forget all the good things, benefits, God has bestowed on us. Starting from the biggest benefit, the salvation of our souls which costs the life of God’s son, Jesus, to the everyday benefits such as good health, ability to work, opportunity to live, family and friends, live in a free country, all the abundance of supplies we take it for granted, and the list goes on and on. How often we complain to God because a particular request is not granted and we forget all the other benefits He has given us.

2)    Remember God’s commands: “My son, do not forget my teaching but keep my commands in your heart.” (Proverbs 3:1)It is much easier to learn and know God’s teaching and command in His word, the Bible but it is much harder to remember and practice them in our everyday life. Forgetting what we learn and know is the biggest pitfall of all mankind. We learn and we forget because we do not practice it again and again. Same will happen to our spiritual failure in doing God’s commands. It is never enough just to know. We need to remember what we learn and put them into everyday practice. James says, “Be more than just listeners but be doers.” (James 1:22)

3)    Remember people’s good work: “We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1Thess. 1:3) The Thessalonians church was a good church in the early Christian history. The Christians in that church had done tremendous good work for the Lord. Paul told them he constantly remembered the good works they have done because of love, faith and endurance. In our life time, there are many people God planted around us to help us grow into who we are today. Our parents, family, teachers, pastors and good friends all have contributed many good things to help us grow into who we are today and we should never forget these people and the good work they have done on us.

4)    Remember our high calling: “As a prisoner for the Lord, I urge you to live a life worthy of the high calling you received.” (Ephesians 4:1)Never forget that we are children of the Almighty God. We need to live a life that is compatible to that status. Our goals of life, our daily pursuit, our attitude and our words and deeds must match the status we claim to have. As princes and princesses of a royal family who must keep their words and actions fit their position. We Christians cannot forget we belong to the King of kings.

CONCLUSION:

1)    What do you remember? It is important to check your memory bank and see what is inside. Get rid of anything that may not help you to live a Christian life

2)    What have you forgotten? Have you forgotten that God is the one who supplies all you need and have? Do you still remember those who helped to make you who you are today? Never forget them.

3)    Whom do you really need? You need Jesus to be your Lord and Savior. Confess your sins and he will forgive you and make your life meaningful and a blessing to many others.