Centuries ago there was a Greek artist named Timanthes who studied under a well respected tutor. As time passed, Timanthes produced some beautiful paintings and was beginning to make a name for himself. After finishing one particular work which he considered his very best, he became so moved with the painting that he did nothing but admire it, day after day.
One morning, he came in once again to admire his work and found that it had been blotted out! Who would do such a thing? He ran in anger to his friend and tutor, who quickly admitted that he was the one who had destroyed the painting. The tutor explained that his love for that piece was retarding his overall progress as an artist. The painting had been ruined for his own good. Timanthes was encouraged to start over and see if he could improve. Taking the advice he had been given, Timanthes was able to produce Sacrifice of Iphigenia, which is regarded as one of the finest paintings of antiquity.
One of the great lessons of each new year is that we can always do better. There may be things that we have done well, and things that we have not done so well. We could spend all of our time either admiring past accomplishments or sobbing over failures. But the best thing for our overall progress is to blot out our former works and concentrate on the latest works that our hearts have inspired.
Paul's theory in ministry and life involved, "...forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead" (Phil. 3:13). Jesus reminded one aspiring disciple, "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62). We cannot waste time gazing upon our past success. We are cheating ourselves, others, and sometimes even our Creator when we forget that our greatest work remains in our future.
Begin this year, thankful for all of your prior blessings and victories. But give the glory to God by using these gifts in service to bring about a brighter future for His church.
The Hebrew writer states, "Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation" (Heb. 6:9). I am confident that for each one of us, our very best is yet to be. Our deepest faith, our most sincere hope, are greatest sacrifice, and our purest love, can still be accomplished. May God help us realize that doing things over means doing things better!
"Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me." ~ Philippians 3:12