Life is about making choices. Some we make are good and some are bad. However, whether we make good or bad choices we need to guard our heart from being a victim or martyr to those choices and the struggles that come as a result of those choices. Some of the struggles from bad choices last years and years, long after the choices we have made. Such as a Christian woman marrying an unsaved man and then finds herself struggling with the decisions and lifestyle of her lost husband.
What can happen is our struggles, trials, and emotional depressions from our bad choices make us a victim or martyr and thus it becomes our identity. It is no longer what we chose or did, it is who we are.
Example: Debby and I have moved a lot and have lived in a lot of different States. Some of those choices were made by the jobs I had and some made by me. Some of the places we can say was definitely the will of God and some was the will of man. Debby and I must choose each day to live in the present with the presence of God and look forward to the future by His grace as overcomers. Otherwise we could use the current struggles generated from our past decisions as an excuse to be a martyr or victim, instead of the spiritual overcomers the Word of God calls us. We must not allow our struggles and trials from our past choices to become our identity.
The martyr or victim syndrome is based on if my current decisions or choices are made based on my unhealed past. Too many believers justify their current emotional, mental and spiritual condition on what decisions were made years ago. Over and over in our minds we struggle with the "What if" or "Only if" statements. Having been raised in a physical and verbal abusive alcoholic home, I went through this. What if I were born to different parents? Only if so and so had not happened to me? It took me over 8 years as a believer to deal with my past so that I no longer lived in it and used it to make excuses for my current emotional, mental and spiritual failures.
If I am currently struggling from my bad decisions or choices or the bad decisions and choices of others that affected me, then I can excuse my words, deeds, and thoughts as a victim to my past. If I am currently struggling from my past decisions or choices, or those of others that affected me, I can excuse my current words, deeds, and thoughts as me being a martyr to my past.
What would be the final outcome if I made the choice of walking as a martyr or victim of my past? FAITH starts being affected. Walking as a martyr or victim goes against the Word of God, therefore the Father will seek to correct us because we are His children. The correction process, which is in Heb.12, if not embraced and acted upon with a repentant heart will cause the heart to grow colder and callous.
Then there comes a drifting farther away. Then there comes a justification as to the spiritual condition. Then comes a moving away from or repositioning of one's self from those that maintain the integrity of God's Word and their Christian walk. Then there comes a deepening of the love for the world and the ways of the world and justifying it by calling it Christian liberty. Then there comes spiritual idolatry and adultery by going after the pagan ways of pagan gods. All of this because of us allowing the past to still drive the school bus of our thoughts and emotions.
Whatever our past, God's Word is true and heals. It took me 8 years to see the truth of it. We can roll those struggles of our past on the Lord Jesus Christ, place them under the blood, and choose to be an overcomer.
1 Peter 5:6-7 ESV Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, (7) casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
Past achievements and successes can be as dangerous as past failures.
One of the dangers Paul speaks about in Phil.3:12-16 is resting in past achievements.
(Philippians 3:12 ESV) Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.
(Philippians 3:13 ESV) Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,
(Philippians 3:14 ESV) I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:15 ESV) Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.
(Philippians 3:16 ESV) Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
I must admit that right after I accepted Christ as Savior I had a problem moving past the bad things that I had done or those things that had been done to me. It took years for me to accept the fact that God had completely forgiven me and freed me from my past failures. And it took years as a believe for me to truly forgive those whom had hurt me.
My successes and accomplishments as a believer also became an issue, but it took longer for me to realize this. One of my drawbacks was getting sidetracked over past accomplishments and achievements. These can cause us to put confidence in the flesh, (our body, our experiences, our intellect). Paul stated that he had not attained (or captured) all the things that he was captured for, therefore he forgets past failures and accomplishments in order to press forward. What a great goal, “the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
Although Paul was not with them physically he encouraged the Philippian believers to continue to make progress in their faith. This means there was a way to measure it. Paul explains what this spiritual progress looks like.
We have hundreds of years of church history exalting our heroes. But true Christian maturity and doing great things in God are not limited to the special few, but to any who press forward. The illumination of the “deep things” in God’s Word is not for the chosen few, but to any who will press forward.
The “yo-yo” up and down daily walk of many believers is not supposed to be the normal Christian life of joy and peace. Paul gives us the example of a Christian life that is lived out of a steady patient practice of Biblical disciplines until they become our own familiar character traits. In case there might be some misunderstanding here, I want to clarify that this is not just an outward change alone producing a religious type of fake life mirroring a Pharisee. It is an outward conduct that comes from an inward change of the heart towards God’s love and a sense of service to Him and the saints and finding the joy of the Lord in doing it.
Paul did not tell us to do something that he himself had not done. He knew how to be content in whatever state he found himself. He knew how to rejoice in all situations and live a joyful Christian life even while sitting in prison facing death. (See Phil.1:12-18).
Philippians 1:12-18 ESV (12) I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, (13) so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. (14) And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. (15) Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. (16) The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. (17) The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. (18) What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice,
Paul told us to mark those who have a good testimony of our Lord Jesus Christ and then use them as an example to follow.
Philippians 3:17 ESV Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.
Philippians 4:9 ESV What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
"This is what the past is for! Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see.” ― Corrie ten Boom
This is so true. Remember, wherever you go, whoever you meet, God uses the experiences and people that have passed through our lives to mold and form us into the image of His Son.
(1). Some experiences and people are like holy sandpaper, meant to rub the rough edges off of us.
(2). Some experiences and people are like mirrors, meant to be used that we see ourselves though the experiences and lives of other people.
(3). Some experiences and people are like a rose, meant to remind us of the beauty and sweet fragrance of life.
(4). Some experiences and people are like heartburn, meant to reveal what lies inside of us that needs to be healed.
(5). Some experiences and people are like walking a tightrope, meant to show us if we stay there very long we will certainly fall.
(6). Some experiences and people are like salt, meant that they have preserved us, seasoned us, and keep us thirsty.
When we speak about our past, why is it that for the most part all we can remember are the bad and the hurtful things were done or said to us? While we seem to find it easy to recall the bad and hurtful things done to us there are two things we seldom remember.
(1). The good things and good times we had.
(2) The bad and hurtful things we said and did to others.
It is the easiest and yet most costly thing in the world to be and stay a victim to our past. Just some thoughts from a Pastor's heart that has learn to live without regrets. The Apostle Paul tells what to do in regards to our past and in relation to our future.
Philippians 3:13-14 ESV (13) Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, (14) I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Charles Morris. Founder and Senior Pastor of RSIM USA.