Christian Teaching

Practicing Gratitude: What to Remember and What to Forget

By: Dr Eliezer Gonzalez

What to remember and what to forget? Your memory is a fascinating thing. Remembering what is bad in our lives comes easily to us, but remembering what is good often takes hard work!

It’s so much easier to remember the bad times we have been through and the bad stuff that’s happened to us, than it is to remember the good. These negative experiences in our past come to be instrumental in shaping how we see the world, others, and ourselves. They can poison all our relationships and interactions.

What to Remember

That’s why what we should be remembering is the good things. I have a personality type that tends to brood on the negative, and that’s where I’ve found that practices like keeping a gratitude journal has been very helpful to me.

Just before Moses died, and before the Children of Israel entered the Promised Land, Moses spoke to the people. He knew that they would easily forget what God had done for them, and so his speech is full of, “Remember…. Remember…. Don’t forget…” You can read it in Deuteronomy 8. But the people didn’t remember, and they forgot.

The Bible tells us that we should always remember is the goodness of God. It says,

Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits (Psalm 103:2; See also 1 Chron. 16:12.)

God’s goodness is expressed to us in many ways, which can be summarised by the word “grace.”

What to Forget

Actually God and the devil have competing agendas with regard to what each want you remember and what each want you to forget. The devil wants you to remember your sins and forget God’s grace, and God wants you to forget your sins and remember his grace.

The Bible tells us that if we have repented and asked for forgiveness, that God has forgotten our sins:

I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more (Isa 43:25; See also Jer. 31:34Heb. 10:17.)

That’s why the Bible also urges us to forget the past and look forward to a better future, both in the Old Testament,

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing!… (Isa 43:18–19.)

When we understand that we are perfectly and fully accepted and loved by God, despite our many sins, our lives are transformed. Then we have a new purpose and focus in our lives, just like the apostle Paul wrote:

…one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (Phil 3:13–14.)

What to forget? The stumbles and failures of your past.

Fill Your Mind With Jesus and You Will be on the Path of Life

The basis of your acceptance by God is the person with Jesus, and specifically the price that he paid for your salvation. Above all, we must never forget Jesus and his Cross. That’s why, we read that at the end of the last supper before his death, Jesus,

…took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (1 Cor. 11:25.)

Our memories can be treacherous things. The world is constantly trying to erase our memories of God’s goodness to us and replace them with anger, bitterness, and revenge. Unless we take positive and deliberate steps to remember the right things, we will remember instead the things that drag us downwards.

In a world in which we all have had plenty of experience of failure, disappointment, suffering and sin, the only way to move forward in life is to fill your mind with Jesus and make the Good News of salvation the centre of your life. When you do that, whatever may be negative in our memories will be overwhelmed by gratitude, and you will be on the path of life.

That’s how you know what to remember and what to forget.


Article supplied with thanks to Dr Eliezer Gonzalez.

About the Author: Dr Eli Gonzalez is the Senior Pastor of Good News Unlimited and the presenter of the Unlimited radio spots, and The Big Question. Sign up to his free online course called Becoming a Follower of Jesus to learn about Jesus and His message.

Feature image: Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash  

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