My dad used to tell us, “You can’t coast on past victories.” What he meant was that things we did in the past for the Lord aren’t “enough to last a lifetime”. We have to keep pressing forward, finding new things to do for Christ, and striving against sin in the present. Past victories may be sweet memories, even invigorating, but they don’t suffice to justify our existence today. We would think it strange if an unemployed and poverty stricken man enjoyed boasting of the $50 an hour he once made but showed no interest in finding a new job. If a father asked his child, “Well, son, have you been obedient today?” and he answered, “Well, I was last week,” the father would be quite unimpressed. Boasting of past blessings and victories is pretty much the same.
Martin Lloyd-Jones had this to say:
“I have always found it depressing to listen to the kind of people who, whenever you meet them, will always for sure tell you the story of their conversion many years ago. They tell you that story every time. I have known people do exactly the same thing with revival. There is always something about an initial experience that is remarkable and outstanding. And a time of revival is so amazing and wonderful that it is not surprising that people go on talking about it. But, if they give the impression that they have had nothing since that wonderful experience, that ever after they have been walking through a wilderness, and travelling through a desert, then it is absolutely wrong. Their idea of the Christian life is of a dramatic experience, perhaps at the outset, after which they just trudge along, living on the strength of that and partly keeping their eye turned backwards as they go forward.”
My family had a friend who once said something to this effect – “They talk about revivals and how we need to get all fired up again for God. I don’t want to go up and down all the time. I would rather just live with a steady zeal all the time.”
What are you doing? Are you riding on past victories with nothing to speak of from recent times? If so, what can you do to get back into “active duty” as it were? Or, are you one of those Christians who lives a rollercoaster life plunging to defeat or lethargy then bounding up to exultation and zeal after a good “revival”, only to follow the same path of descent again after awhile?
It is something worth thinking about.
The apostle Paul said, Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14
Paul was not content to “rest upon his laurels” as it were, yet if anyone had room to boast in accomplishments he did. Instead he left us an example of pressing forward – whether it was in the body (during his missionary journeys) or in spirit (during his prison years).
Hebrews 6:1-3 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit.
The Christian life is one of moving forward, of not lingering indefinitely over the foundations. We should never stop growing.
2 Peter 3:17-18 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
1 Corinthians 15:57-58 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.