Living in the Past or the Present

Scripture: Ecclesiastes 7:10, ‘Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not wise to ask such questions.’


Observations: Over the years I have heard the expression ‘the good old days’ more than once. Things were simpler in ‘the good old days.’ Kids respected their parents in ‘the good old days.’ In ‘the good old days’ church was better. But Solomon tells us that it is not wise to ask why the old days were better! Why is that such an unwise question? I think for two reasons. Firstly, it’s often not true. Aspects may have been better, but other aspects of the past were not better. Often we suffer from selective memory. Sin still existed in the old days, and sins effects were still devastating. Children may have been more respective, at least those that survived childbirth, TB, and polio. In fact many people have very distorted memories of the past. I once asked my grandmother what ‘the good old days’ were like, and she told me ‘they didn’t exist, the people who are so angry now were angry back then as well!’ The second reason it’s unwise to ask this question is because the answer is not revealed to us. Sometimes the past is better than the present, but we don’t know why God has allowed our society to deteriorate, or why he has allowed disaster. We cannot understand the ebb and flow of sin in our world. In the book of Revelation it talks about destruction in terms of quarters and thirds and halves, we don’t know why at one point in history we experience relative peace, while in another intense persecution.


Application: Instead of dwelling in the past and remembering ‘the good old days, (whether they existed or not)’ God calls us instead to dwell in the present. It is more wise to ask: how am I to live today? As the Psalmist says, ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts. (Ps 95:7-8)’ We should be more concerned about fixing our thoughts on Jesus, on encouraging others, and holding firm onto our faith (see Heb 3:1-14). It’s how we live today that matters.


Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, while You are the same Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, I change from day to day, and so do my circumstances. Lord, protect me from getting caught up in the past, the things that I can no longer change. Instead fill me with Your Spirit and help me to live in the present for Your honour and glory. May I continually fix my attention on Jesus, and invest my time in encouraging others and living out my faith. May I live for You today. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


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