“Did you hear that?” Amanda asked. “She had an affair!”
The committee ladies gasped and looked up from their papers with surprise. The questions came thick and fast.
“How do you know?”
“Well,” Amanda was taken aback by their vehemence. “I don’t really know much, but Joyce wrote to me to ask if we knew about her affair twenty years ago.”
“Well, we’ll certainly have to think hard about whether we can have her as our conference speaker if she’s had an affair,” said Margaret, making notes on her paper. “We’ve got standards to set, you know.”
“The conference is only eight weeks away now. We’re running out of time to book another speaker.” Amanda started looking up her list of women speakers.
“Hold on a minute. Twenty years ago, that’s rather a long time ago, isn’t it,” Beverley looked around the group. As Chairman of the ladies committee she must not let this get out of hand. “First, how do we know this is true? Second if it is true, and this is public knowledge, then I suggest she has acknowledged her wrong-doing, and may even be using it in her ministry. We have asked her to speak on forgiveness, you know. Here is someone who may have more first hand experience on the topic than we knew.”
The ladies sat thoughtfully, minds racing, and then the excited chatter resumed.
Beverley opened her Bible at Philippians and called for quiet. “Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus,” she read. “Paul said earlier in this passage that even he wasn’t perfect yet, but he looked ahead, and didn’t waste time looking back.”
“Yes,” Margaret added. “He certainly used his past experiences in his teaching, and although the Bible says what is written in olden times was written for our learning, it doesn’t say that we should hold past mistakes against people.”
“Goodness, if we took past mistakes into account, I don’t think we’d even be able to find a speaker.” Alison spoke up for the first time. “Probably none of us would qualify either. I’m thinking of a verse that has been special to me which says God pardons sin and hurls all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. Surely we shouldn’t be hassling over things that God has deliberately put behind him.”
“That’s right,” said Beverley. “God is in the business of forgiveness if we confess and forsake our sins and these scriptures are so helpful. This speaker was highly recommended to us, and it seems God is blessing her ministry in many ways. Who are we to judge her when God has forgiven her?”
“So we forget this silly gossip, and carry on with conference planning?” asked Margaret. “There are plenty of other things to be working on.”
“Well spoken, Margaret,” said Beverley. “Don’t look back, or judge someone by whatever is in their past. We have to learn from our mistakes for sure, but God wants us to move on and to live out the reality of his forgiveness in our lives. Whatever is behind us, we have a great future. Let’s celebrate that!”
“Oh yes,” said Amanda. “You know I’m looking forward to her coming now, I want to hear what she has to say.”
Philippians 3:13,14 NIV
Micah 7:18,19 NIV
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