I think the older we get, the more regrets we have. Some are minor and inconsequential, others are significant and reverberate for the rest of our lives. When a regret is powerful enough, the result can be debilitating and/or paralyzing emotionally and psychologically. This post is to suggest thoughts about how to deal with regrets of all degrees. My working use of terms from this point is: All regrets are the result of one or more mistakes that can also be called sin. With that in mind consider the following:
1. Every sin and/or mistake resulting in regret (Regardless of significance) can be forgiven by God through the blood of Jesus Christ. This is the most significant truth to embrace to address regrets. Until a person can affirm this truth personally, healing and restoration will be either temporary and/or impossible. At this point a person MUST take God at His Word… absolutely and without reservation. This means Scripture MUST overrule our own thoughts, beliefs, or emotions. As it is written in 1 John 1:9…
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness.
Slander, Arrogance, Deception, Withholding Truth, Theft, Murder, Lying, Withholding Mercy, Stealing, Adultery, Manipulation, Unforgiveness, Fornication, Jealousy, Anger, and anything else you can name is addressed by 1 Jn 1:9. But there IS a requirement to be forgiven and cleansed… CONFESSION. Confession first and foremost to God because all sin is first against Him. Second, confession to those we sinned against (Ouch). “Confession” means “to agree with.” To be forgiven and cleansed, there needs to be an agreement with God that the mistake was made by you toward Him. There also needs to be agreement with another a transgression was made toward them personally.
2. After confession toward God, there is confession to those we sinned against. This is tougher because we have to admit to another person, or people, that we were wrong… made a mistake… or harmed them in some way. This troubles us because we are proud and admitting fault or failure makes us look bad in the eyes of others. Yet the following is found in James 5:16…
Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.
Confessing sin to another person should only be in relation to the scope of offense. Only the person(s) offended should be confessed to and forgiveness requested. I know one individually who took this to heart as a pastor. He sought out people he could think of from High School and College he offended and asked their forgiveness. Because he cut corners in Seminary, he contacted the President confessing what he had done offering to retake classes and give up his degree if necessary. He asked his wife and children to forgive him for his offenses toward them. Then, regarding his profession, he contacted every staff member he’d served with and asked for their forgiveness for his offenses. He also asked the pastor to address the church for forgiveness and/or deacons for his conduct.
Did he HAVE to go that far… especially given that God had forgiven him? His answer to that question was Mt 5:23-24…
If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
When a person “has something against (us)” is because of an offense we’ve committed toward them. It is not the idea that they offended us. His perspective of understanding was that he had to at least make the effort toward reconciliation. If there was no response to his attempt, he considered it done to the best of his ability. But in his mind the Scripture implored him to do his due diligence to honor God from Scripture.
A great model of this is Zacchaeus. His conversion prompted him to… “Half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold…” Jesus did not tell Zacchaeus to do either, but he did so as a result of being saved… which Jesus affirmed in Luke 19:9.
Tomorrow will continue reflections regarding Addressing Regrets.