Everyday Encounter with God

Pastor Sylvia's Encounters with God in the Midst of Everyday Life


The Sin of Regret

This week I am actively working on a particular sin in my life—regret. There is nothing more debilitating than looking backwards with remorse and sorrow. Regret becomes sin when we allow it to steal our joy, separate us from experiencing the love of God, and when it keeps us from serving Him wholeheartedly.  

Many of us cower under memories of our past moral failures. How can we break free? Here’s my plan…

First, I remind myself that Jesus has already died for those sins. I’ve repented; he’s forgiven me. Romans 8:1 says: “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” Every time I feel a stab of regret for past mistakes, I audibly speak those words. The more I say them, the less I am tormented.

Second, we need to realize that our condemnation comes from God’s enemy. Scripture refers to him as “the accuser of the brethren.” If Satan can’t keep Jesus from saving us, he will settle for making us miserable. He wants to defocus us from Jesus by refocusing us on how bad we’ve been. Don’t let him! The price for our failures was paid at the cross.

Third, we can’t see what God did with our past failures. What an insult it is when we assume He didn’t use them for good in the lives of others. Romans 8:28 assures us, “… that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.”

God causes all things-- even our sins-- to work for good. He transforms lives with the refuse we leave behind. When regrets threaten my joy, I praise God for His loving sovereignty. His infinite power has already changed my failures into advantages.

Fourth, when I am tempted to massage my regrets, I choose thanksgiving instead. “Thank you, Father. My failures remind me of Your great love for me and my great need for You.”

Fifth, it’s tempting to think that our past failures cast permanent shadows over how God can use us today. They don’t. No matter how much we have sinned in the past, He has work for us. God doesn’t care how many people have unfriended you on Facebook. He is unconcerned with what your criminal background check reveals. He doesn’t keep count of how many times you hurt someone’s feelings, broke your promises, or disappointed your family.

Ephesians 2:10 says this: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” No matter how badly we may have failed in the past, it positioned us to be used by Him today.

Sixth, my past mistakes can be extremely useful. I know what I don’t want to do again. Without wallowing in self-indulgent regret, the occasional sting of my transgressions rightly keeps me humble. I am a sinner saved by grace. Without Jesus I deserve nothing good. It’s that simple.

And finally, Paul reminds us where to keep our eyes. “… I focus on this one thing: forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”

Did Paul forget his moral failures, his sins? No. But he didn’t dwell on them. Instead he put his thoughts and heart into serving Christ by helping the men and women around him.

Without regret, that is what each of us needs to do also.