“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…” ~Philippians 3:13
One of the most hopeless feelings is that of regret. It ties us to our past with strong chains which impede our progress. Regret puts a dark cloud over the present and the future. Jesus came to redeem us from our sinful past. However, not all regrets may be sin-based.
Perhaps, some regrets are due to poor decisions – but, not necessarily sinful in nature. A businessman may regret some of his financial investments or business endeavors. A twenty-something young lady, with a promising future, may regret that she drove on the icy roads and was in an accident which left her paralyzed. The thoughts of “I wish I would have…” or “I really should (or shouldn’t) have…” can be difficult to bear. However, we must somehow come to terms with the present reality and make the best of it. “Don’t say, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’ since it is not wise of you to ask this” (Ecc. 7:10).
Whether our regrets are due to sin or poor judgment, the problem of regret remains the common denominator. Of course, we are all a work in progress – but, if we learn from the past and make changes, we will lessen our chances of having to go through such misery again. We are powerless to change the past and too tormented to bear the weight of regret, so we must bring our sins and regrets to Jesus; for we cannot (and should not) bear them.
When Regret is Good
I can understand the idea of being grieved over our sin and, in a sense, even regretful over them. However, we should only allow this type of regret to drive us to Jesus for cleansing, and to drive us far away from the sin which initially caused the regret. 2nd Corinthians 7:10 states: “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” In other words, the kind of sorrow/regret which is healthy will lead us away from sin; for this kind of sorrow is good, in that, it leads us to God. But worldly sorrow and regret, which lacks repentance, will only leave us spiritually dead inside. It is the latter type of regret which will choke out our hearts cry to be free in Jesus.
Forgive Yourself, Forgive Others
Remember, we are mere humans, capable of making mistakes or having poor judgment, at times. If our shameful past is under the blood of Jesus, we must forgive ourselves and move forward. Scripture plainly states: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1st John 1:9). If He forgives us (and He is the One who shed His blood for cleansing of sin) – who are we not to forgive ourselves and/or others?
The great Apostle Paul used to persecute Christians – until he became one. Had he wallowed in the regrets of his past, we wouldn’t have much of the New Testament; for he authored a large portion of it. You see, as we move on – it is not only for our benefit, but it can have a positive impact on the world around us. That’s a win-win situation!
Time to Practice!
Practice – it takes practice of implementing this new frame of mind, which is scripturally-based, in order for us to break free from regrets. Keep constant reminders of scripture nearby until it begins to flourish from within. Opportunities to grow will present themselves often – be prepared to pass the test and not to be defeated. We must spend ample time building ourselves up on the most holy faith so that we can be overcomers. Jesus said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). With God, His mercies are new every morning. Each day is a fresh start.
I would like to leave you with a profound quote by Helen Mellincost which states:
I was regretting the past and fearing the future. Suddenly God was speaking: ‘My name is I Am.’ I waited and God continued: ‘When you live in the past, with its mistakes and regrets, it is hard. I am not there. My name is not ‘I Was’… My name is I AM.’
“What Scars Are For” by Mandisa