The word "memorial" is mentioned 31 times in the Bible, and the application of a memorial is written about several times in addition to that. For instance, Malachi 3:16 speaks of a book of remembrance, and there were several times in the Old Testament where holy men built a special altar to God as a memorial of a particular promise or event. From these many references, we can be assured that there are some things God does not want us to forget. He longs for us to remember His faithfulness and His mercy. He encourages us to remember His promises and His commands. Yes, there are definitely some things that need to be remembered.
However, there are some things that do not. We do not, for example, need to remember our past failures and mistakes. Learn from them? Yes. Dwell on them? Absolutely not. By dwelling in the past, we can't fully live out our future. Remember Lot's wife. Even though she knew Sodom and Gomorrah were wicked and being destroyed by the Lord, she simply could not refuse the urge to look back. Just one more look. What could it hurt? Well, I would tell you to ask Lot's wife, but you can't because a pillar of salt can't answer questions. Her inability to let go of the past cost her her life, and it can cost us the same.
In Philippians 3:13-14, Paul said, Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Did you catch that? Forgetting those things which are behind. If anyone had a past to be ashamed of, it was Paul. How many years of his life did he spend as an enemy of Christ and murderer of Christians? But when Paul met the Lord on the Damascus Road, he became a new man. Old things were passed away and all things became new. Paul understood that he couldn't live in the past or spend his days dwelling on his past mistakes. He needed his strength for the present and the future. He couldn't afford to waste it on the past. Instead, he remembered what was important, learned from his mistakes, and went forward. We need to do the same.
Some things need to be remembered and others do not. Let's be careful in deciding which is which. A memorial to God's goodness is always in order; however, a memorial of mistakes is not. Let go of the past and press on toward the future, carrying with you only those things that truly matter.