by Pastor Tim Burt
I have tried to live my life in such a way that when I looked back over it one day, I’d feel no regrets. I’ve really tried to follow and obey the Lord and obey the direction I’ve sensed from Him. But, if I am perfectly transparent with you, I’ve had my moments where I cared more about me than obeying God. I’ve had my moments where my attitude or my words were less than appropriate. I have had my moments where I should have taken a better course of action. I’ve had moments of opportunity to be a better husband to Renee or a better father to my children. Having said that, I am mostly happy with how I’ve walked out my life in the Lord, but as hard as I have tried, I can’t say there aren’t any regrets. What I can say is that I’ve had very few.
I refuse to spend too much time mulling over those few things I regret. When I do reflect on them, I look at them only with short-term views—just enough time to bring them before God. In that time, I examine my heart and seek His help so as not to repeat them. God’s Word instructs us what to do with regret. 2 Corinthians 7:10 (MSG) “Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets.”
Regrets do damage if we don’t forgive ourselves after God does and move on. Moving on doesn’t mean become callous and indifferent toward past mistakes. It means being sincerely sorry, learning from your mistakes or regrets, making changes, and then moving forward.
Sometime ago, someone I had considered a good friend began to lie to me about something in order to accomplish his personal agenda. Those lies turned into a nightmare that caused serious hurt and pain to a number or people including me. When he was caught, I know at first he felt regret. But instead of admitting it and being sorry for the kind of behavior that led up to it, he decided he didn’t want to take the responsibility for the hurt that was caused by his actions. Consequently, his actions and behavior did not change. He still manipulates to get his way at the expense of others. Only godly sorrow leads to real change. Without it, people don’t change. God’s word warns us against hardening our heart at those moments of regret and ditching godly sorrow. “…You don’t want to end your life full of regrets, nothing but sin and bones, Saying, “Oh, why didn’t I do what they told me? Why did I reject a disciplined life? Why didn’t I listen to my mentors, or take my teachers seriously? My life is ruined!” (Proverbs 5:7 MSG)
It’s imperative to understand that we all make bad choices and mistakes we regret. No one escapes that! You might make a wrong decision. You might slip up and act or speak out of character. You might come to realize that you tuned out or disobeyed what the Lord was leading you to do. When you do, if you’re spiritually and emotionally healthy, you’ll feel regret. When you do feel regret, make amends to God and if possible, to anyone you are aware of that you hurt. If what you’re regretting has mostly just hurt you, repent before the Lord and turn from it. If you’ll learn from what you regret and move forward, you will minimize future regrets rather than getting caught in them like quicksand.
God has great mercy on those that desire to learn from their mistakes and refocus on His instructions for life. Psalm 119:77 says, “Surround me with your tender mercies so I may live, for your precepts are my delight. When we blow it, God not only has mercy, but He offers His grace – His supernatural help in times of trouble to those that will admit and turn from their regrets. Proverbs 3:34 says, He mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble.
If you’ve blown it somewhere, don’t get buried in regret. Take care of business with God and with man. Have sincere godly sorrow before the Lord and those you hurt. Then receive the tender mercy of God and His grace to move forward. Let go of the past because you can’t change it. Look forward to the grace of God to help you make character changes to break the repetition of things you regret, and to help you live your life ahead with as few regrets possible. Let today be that new day. Then move forward in His mercy and grace!
Lamentations 3:22-23 (NLT) “The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning”
In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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