‘I do remember my faults this day.’ Genesis 41:9
Suggested Further Reading: 2 Peter 1:5–15
We have a greater power for remembering evil than good. Very plain is this in your children. If you mention anything good in their hearing you need to say it many times, and very plainly, before they are likely to remember it; but if one bad word shall casually meet their ear in the street, it will not be long before you have the pain of hearing them repeat it. Our memory is like theirs, but as it is more developed, this peculiarity is more manifest. We have a most convenient warehouse for storing the merchandise of evil, but the priceless jewels of goodness are readily stolen from their casket. We have a fireproof safe for worthless matters, and enclose the rarest gems in mere pasteboard cases. Our memory, like a strainer, often suffers the good wine to pass through but retains all the dregs. It holds the bad in an iron grasp, and plays with the good till it slips through the fingers. Our memories, like ourselves, have done the things which they ought not to have done, and have left undone the things which they ought to have done, and there is no health in them.
Among other things, it is not always easy to recollect our faults. We have special and particular reasons for not wishing to be too often reminded of them. Few men care to keep their faults in the front room of the house. Underground, in the darkest cellar, and, if possible, with the door locked and the key lost; it is there we would like to conceal our faults from ourselves. If, however, the grace of God has entered into a man he will pray that he may remember his faults, and he will ask grace that if he should forget any excellencies which he once supposed he had, he may not forget his defects, his sins, his infirmities, and his transgressions, but may have them constantly before him, that he may be humbled by them and led to seek pardon for them and help to overcome them.
For meditation: Read Proverbs 28:13—if we try to hide our sins, God will remember them; if we own up to him about them and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness, he will remember them no more (Jeremiah 31:34).
Sermon no. 680
11 March (1866)