How do I deal with regrets?

How do I deal with regrets?

A friend of mine told me this week that he said something years ago that he still regrets.  He spoke to a pastor who told him that Jesus forgave him for all he did – including speaking those words.  But my friend still felt burdened by what he had done.

Glibly, I told him that everyone has regrets.  Even Peter must have regretted denying Christ for the rest of his life.

I was too quick in my response.  It is true that you cannot undo what you have done.  But does that mean you will forever stagger under the burden of these mistakes – deliberate or not?

This is a real issue for me.  I have said and done – or not done – things that I regret.  I often turn these over in my mind.

I believe Christ would say that I must not let my past shackle my future.  By that I mean, I must not allow past misdeeds steal my joy in the Lord.

That doesn’t mean I must ignore what I have done wrong.  If I have hurt someone, I should seek that person’s forgiveness.  I will have done what I could, even if I am not forgiven.

For other sins, the general rule is clear in 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins to him (God), he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” (New Living Testament)

Who am I to dwell on these things if Christ has forgiven me and I have done what I could to be reconciled to others?

A young student pastor gave a good sermon in our church this morning about God’s mercy and grace, using Jesus’ story of the Prodigal Son.  In that story the father runs out and hugs his wayward son who is returning home repentant after wasting his inheritance (Luke 15:11-32).

That is a picture of God loving us even when we wander away from him and eagerly embracing us when we come back to him.

The apostle Paul says in Philippians 3 that he has not reached perfection.

“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

Paul has put behind him all his victories and defeats.  Instead, he is focused on what Christ is calling him to do.

That is good counsel for me and for anyone struggling with regrets.

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