The Spanish American philosopher George Santayana once wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Dr. Santayana wasn’t a Bible teacher. He taught at Harvard for more than 20 years, but his comment about history echoes a great truth we learn from God’s Word in our memory verse for the week.
“Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us…” The lessons we can learn from those who have gone before us are designed to teach us, but I’m convinced that the lessons we learn from history are not enough. We can read every history book on the shelf, take copious notes until our notebooks are full, and still end up repeating the mistakes of those who have gone before us.
Romans 15:4 teaches us that along with gleaning from the lessons of the past we need “the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide” for us to have hope. The “endurance” aspect of the Scriptures pertains to the lives of those who trusted in God, how they leaned upon the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, and trusted in the Sovereign hand of God in their daily life. The “encouragement” provided by the Scriptures pertains to the promises of God appropriated by those who walked with God through every challenge imaginable.
Learning the lessons of history is important, but accumulating the facts of history will make us nothing more than a historian. God’s desire for you and me is that we become more than a historian; He wants to mold us and shape us into godly men and women. God will mold us and shape us as we spend time each day in God’s Word learning how Abraham chose to get up and go when it made more sense to stay (Genesis 12:1), learning that when we don’t know what to pray the Spirit helps us in our weakness (Romans 8:26), learning from Joseph how God works in the crucible of trials and troubles (Genesis 50:20), and much more. As we learn these lessons from those who have gone before us and turn to the Lord in the ways they turned to the Lord we will the reality of Romans 15:4 begin to blossom in our lives.