1 Peter 4:3
For the time past of our life may suffice us to have worked the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts…
Every day and every moment closes and commences a year; yet the artificial arrangement by which it is agreed that a year shall close at one certain fixed moment of a certain fixed day is an arrangement both convenient and contributive in many ways to our moral and religious advantage. The review of the closing year is a very proper, and may be a very profitable, exercise. The newspapers review the events of the year which are of political, financial, or commercial interest. Man has, however, higher interests - those which are moral and spiritual. It is desirable that we should take a retrospect of "the time past," with a view of tracing God's providential dealings with us, with a view of estimating our own spiritual progress, and of learning lessons of wisdom and of helpfulness.
I. WHAT DOES REFLECTION SUGGEST TO US CONCERNING TIME PAST IN ITSELF?
1. Its passage has been rapid, yet it has been filled with events of great importance.
2. It is perfectly irrecoverable; we cannot live the expiring year over again.
3. It has left ineffaceable traces upon our character. We are all changed by its influences, its occupations, its lessons - some for the better, some for the worse.
4. It is not forgotten by the Lord and Judge of all. In this sense he "requireth that which is past."
II. IN WHAT SPIRIT SHOULD THE CHRISTIAN CONSIDER THE TIME PAST?
1. His first and most prominent thought should be of the mercy and loving-kindness of God revealed to him as the days and weeks have passed by.
2. Especially should he remember the long-suffering and forbearance which has been displayed towards him by his heavenly Father upon repeated occasions, when such consideration has been called for by failures in duty and by forgetfulness of Divine love.
3. He should remember with regret and repentance the opportunities of obedience and usefulness which he has neglected.
4. Nor should he lose sight of the discipline which he may have been called upon to endure, and which he should remember, not with a rebellious, but with a submissive spirit.
III. IN WHAT SPIRIT SHOULD THE IRRELIGIOUS AND UNDECIDED REVIEW THE TIME PAST?
1. He should remember with humiliation and shame that he has broken the Law of God, and rejected the gospel of Christ.
2. He should reflect upon the evil influence which his example of religion has exercised over his fellow-men, especially over those within his family and social circle.
3. He should consider that he is the worse at the end of the year than at its beginning, because of his delay to repent and to commence by God's grace a new and better life.
IV. How SHOULD THE MEMORY OF THE TIME FAST AFFECT THE TIME TO COME?
1. We may be helped to realize the brevity of life, and the uncertainty and probable brevity especially of what of life yet remains.
2. We may be induced to turn away from the evil which has been indulged in during bygone years, and to enter upon the holier life and more consecrated service which our conscience approves and enjoins. The sands are fast falling; the tide is fast ebbing; the light is fast fading. Let the future see our vows fulfilled, our hopes realized, our aims achieved! - J.R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: