The Lord commanded Ezekiel to teach a challenging principle to the children of Israel: No matter what you have done in the past, what really matters is what you are doing today.
When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it.
Again, when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right;
If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die.
None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live.Ezekiel 33:12-16
This is both a comforting and a sobering doctrine. We have the opportunity to reinvent ourselves during this “probationary state” (Alma 12:24, Alma 42:4, 10, 13). If we don’t want to be the kind of people we have been before, we can change, we can act differently. God will treat us as we are today, not as we were previously.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission prohibits individuals and companies from making misleading statements about tradable assets. In particular, SEC rule 156 prohibits any communication which implies that income or gains realized in the past are predictive of the security’s performance in the future. In response to this rule, many investment firms routinely include a disclaimer in their marketing materials which states, “Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results.”
We could all use a reminder like that in our personal lives, for at least two reasons:
- We are not hostage to our former sins. We can find hope in the knowledge that we can overcome even bad habits and addictions.
- We must not take comfort in our former good deeds and become complacent. No matter what we might have accomplished to date, there is work to be done today.
After asking members of the church in Zarahemla, “Have ye spiritually been born of God?” Alma asked the more immediate question, “Can ye feel so now?” (Alma 5:14, 26).
Today, I will remember the importance of current righteousness. I will be grateful for the opportunity to leave the past behind and begin anew. I will be grateful for a God who sees me as I am today and as I can become, not as I once was.