When movies and TV shows have flashbacks, why are they often hazy or black and white? I understand they are visually showing the viewer that what they are seeing happened in the past, but it has always bothered me.
I often see the past more clearly than I see the present. I have replayed great and terrible moments from my past many times. It’s like watching Super Hi-Def 1080p on a TV the size of Mt. Rushmore.
When I think of the past it inevitably leads me to thinking of Jesus. I remember how He saved me, how He has directed my life, how He used highs and lows to point me to Himself and reveals something about His character to me.
Just as it is easy to live in the past, it’s also easy to live in the future.
I have a picture of my future self that has finally mastered the art of eating healthy, of turning off the TV and reading more, of writing consistently. My future self is an awesome person and I look forward to meeting him, although if I am honest I doubt he will ever exist. But he is nice to think about.
The problem with living in yesterday or living in tomorrow is that we miss living in today and today is the most important day in the life of a Christian.
I’m not talking about having your best life today, but about understanding the importance and responsibility we have right now.
Consider these five things we can only do today:
Today is the only day we can exercise our faith.
It is easy to look back over days in our past and wish we responded differently to situations. But those moments and opportunities are gone. We can only respond to what we see before us. Perhaps something happened yesterday and we have a new chance to respond to it today.
But what does that look like? It means facing every situation with one goal: glorifying God. How can I make much of the name of Jesus in whatever situation I face today? How can I face the problems of the day, not in a way that will ensure my comfort, but in a way that will point my heart and the hearts of others to Jesus?
Today is the only day we can confess our sins.
This isn’t only about sins we have committed today, but about confessing sins God has revealed to us. The 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith has a great statement on this idea, “As repentance is to be continued through the whole course of our lives, upon the account of the body of death, and the motions thereof, so it is every man’s duty to repent of his particular known sins particularly” (Luke 19:8; 1 Timothy 1:13,15).
It should be the daily pleasure of the Christian to cry out Psalm 139: 23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”
The cry is threefold. The first cry is for God to reveal any sin in my life. The second cry is not stated, but I believe it is an understood cry of repentance. The third cry is for God to lead me in His ways, away from sin and toward knowing Him deeper.
It is the pleasure of the Christian to make this cry because sin prevents us from knowing God. But Him showing us particular sin and us confessing and repenting of particular sin draws us closer to Him.
Today is the only day we can mortify sin.
Mortify is not a word we use in everyday speech. It is a word that simply means “to put to death.” Romans 8:13b says, “…but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”
Paul here is speaking of mortifying—putting to death—sin in our lives. This is the step after confessing and repenting.
The great preacher Martyn Lloyd-Jones said to see mortifying sin as living on the Isle of Man. Satan once ruled this island, but Christ has dethroned him and now sits as Lord and King. However, there are guerilla fighters throughout the island still loyal to the old king.
Your job is mercilessly and ruthlessly, with the power of the Holy Spirit, hunt these guerilla fighters down and kill them.
It is not an easy battle. It is a war the Christian will fight until life on the earth is over and we finally receive the final reward.
Today is the only day we know God deeper.
Many people believe heaven is the ultimate goal, the final reward, of Christianity. It is not.
Knowing God is the best, final, and infinite reward of the Christian. Heaven is the place where we can explore and know God for eternity. God is the crowning jewel of Christianity, nothing else.
It is good for us to remember what God has done in the past, and indeed we are commanded to do so. We can also look forward to our future as we place our hope in Christ, and again we are commanded to in Scripture. But today is the only day we can read, pray, commune, and fellowship with God.
We cannot live in what we knew of or felt for God yesterday. We cannot look to what we hope to be, sins we hope to conquer, or the faith we hope to have tomorrow. We must use the time God has given us today to study and to know Him.
If all we have is yesterday and forever, but we never look to today, our relationship with Christ will be empty and the day-to-day grind will become unbearable. We will ultimately be dissatisfied with a God we do not even know.
Now, I have to be completely honest, this idea did not originate with me. My pastor preached a series on the character of God and he briefly mentioned the importance of today in the life of a Christian. In his sermon, he says the focus on all this is the immutability of Christ. If you would like to know more about that, and it is well worth your time to learn about it, listen to the sermon here or the entire series here.