“And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:22-24).

CAREFUL STEWARDSHIP MUST BE MAINTAINED OVER THE MINDS THAT GOD HAS GIVEN US, OR ELSE WE WILL LOSE THE ABILITY TO LIVE PRODUCTIVELY. The twin gifts of memory and anticipation, for example, are dangerous. Like all other good things, both the ability to look backward and the ability to look forward have the potential for great harm if they are not managed wisely. We can only do with the present moment what God would want us to do if we hold to a productive view of the past and the future.

As the above text indicates, the apostle Paul maintained a steadfastly practical view of the present moment and its opportunities. As a former persecutor of the church, looking to the past would have been painful, and for the greater part of his ministry as an apostle, looking to the future would have filled him with trepidation. “But none of these things move me,” he said. Many things lay sorrowfully behind him, and many lay dreadfully before him, but more important than any of his memories or his anxieties was the privilege of doing in the present that which would serve the purposes of God. His goal? It was simply this: “that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”

Jesus often gave less than a complete answer when His disciples asked about when certain future events were going to occur. On almost every occasion, He brought their attention back to the more practical matter of doing the daily work they’d been given to do, regardless of what may have happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow. What our Lord always wants is to find His servants busy doing each day’s ordinary work: “Blessed is that servant whom his master finds so doing when he comes” (Luke 12:43). Ideally, our minds should be enriched with both the memories of God’s grace and the hopes of God’s glory. But in any case, we must not miss what the present moment means.

“Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness” (James Thurber).

Gary Henry – WordPoints.com

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