Think about the worst mistake you’ve made. If you’re like me, it probably ranks as the worst because of the fallout it caused. After all, some wrong things we did seem to have had little effect. But the ones that backfired on us we view as the big ones.
The trouble is, we never know which compromises will end up being the big ones.
Reuben, the oldest son of Jacob, blew it big-time. From his example, we can learn to make two daily decisions that can change your past.
More specifically, we can change your past that will be.
As Jacob’s firstborn son, Reuben had the privilege of preeminence among his brothers. That meant after his father Jacob died, Reuben would become the leader.
But Reuben tried to seize the right of the firstborn before it was time by having relations with his father’s wife (Genesis 35:22). Sleeping with the wife of the leader meant he was assuming the leadership role for himself. But Reuben’s presumption backfired. On his father’s deathbed, Jacob uttered these words:
Reuben, you are my first-born; my might and the beginning of my strength, preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power. Uncontrolled as water, you shall not have preeminence, because you went up to your father’s bed. —Genesis 49:3-4
In taking too soon what would be his, Reuben lost it all. He couldn’t change the past.
Privileges, Gifts, Strengths, and Daily Decisions
It’s tempting to mistake privilege for a guarantee of success. Giftedness, too, can become a handicap if we mix with it presumption. Consider:
- A gifted executive with an arrogance that keeps him unemployed.
- A beautiful woman with an attitude that makes her ugly.
- A young person brought up in a Christian home who abandons morality for the sake of curiosity.
In each case, their privilege, gift, or strength, has become their weakness because they neglected obedience in daily decisions.
The tragedy of Reuben’s life is what could have been. Reuben never would have done what he did if he knew the far-reaching the consequences. Reuben shows us, from this one act of insubordination, that we can disqualify ourselves from the benefits our privileges were intended to bring.
But we also see by his example how to succeed in daily decisions.
How to Change Your Past that Will Be
Even though you can’t change your past that has been, you can realize that one day, even today will become the past. In that sense, you can change the past that will be.
Do that by making two daily decisions:
- Refuse to take the easy route of compromise and impatient ambition. Instead, dig in, stay faithful where God has put you, and unite your privileges with an unwavering obedience to Christ. In God’s time, you will enjoy the benefits those privileges were intended to bring (Galatians 6:9).
- Choose to do what’s right every time, even in the little things. We can have no idea how the little compromises we make today will affect the rest of our lives (Proverbs 6:10-11). Let your own past be your greatest teacher. Little decisions—both good and bad—add up to big consequences (Luke 19:17). That’s good news.
You can’t change the past, that’s certain. But in your daily decisions you can change your past that will be.
Tell me what you think: What helps you devote your privileges, gifts, or strengths to God’s service? To leave a comment, just click here.