Regrets. We all have them. Maybe we’ve regretted something done—a misspoken word, a flare of anger, an untempered reaction. Or we’ve regretted things not done—encouragement not spoken, the neglect of someone in need, forgiveness not offered in time.
Regret makes us wish we’d done something differently. And no matter how “right” we thought our actions were, regret carries no satisfaction. It threatens to overcome us with a heaviness that smothers our joy.
The Bible records the regrets of David, a king and a man after God’s own heart. After David’s one-night affair with Bathsheba resulted in pregnancy, David manipulated circumstances to have Bathsheba’s husband die on the army’s front lines. God punished David: the child they conceived died. But worse, David lived with the regret of knowing that his sin had caused this terrible consequence. David’s lament is recorded in Psalm 51:3-4:
For I am conscious of my rebellion,
and my sin is always before me.
Against you—you alone—I have sinned
and done this evil in your sight.
So you are right when you pass sentence;
you are blameless when you judge.
In spite of his regret, David’s faith did not waver. He said, “Test me, Lord, and try me; examine my heart and mind. For your faithful love guides me, and I live by your truth” (Psalm 26:2-3). Though he sometimes failed, David aimed for God’s best.
God shows us His best through His Word. He wants us to live as free from regret as possible. How can we move toward regret-free living? Here are three steps that can help guide us:
- Know God’s Word.
God’s Word is a detailed roadmap for navigating this life. When we study and know His Word, we are challenged to see and choose His best for us. By examining the stories of people like David who have gone before us, we see the painful consequences of stepping outside the boundaries God has created for our good.
Just as we consider others’ lives, we must also evaluate our own and note patterns that have led us to regrets in the past. Listening to and learning from our own lives, as well as knowing God’s Word, helps us grow in our faith and refine our decision-making. When we can say with David, “Sustain me by giving me the desire to obey!” (Psalm 51:12b NET), we are on the right path.
- Be quick to say I’m sorry and make forgiving others a distinguishing feature of your life.
Jesus explains that forgiveness is one of God’s fundamental expectations. He tells His disciples, “For if you forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will not forgive your offenses” (Matthew 6:14-15).
We need only look to the cross to see Jesus’ ultimate expression of forgiveness. Of His executioners He said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Jesus was hanging on the cross for their sins. And He was hanging on the cross for mine and for yours.
“He himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). We are a forgiven people. A simple but necessary question might be: What amount of regret could I avoid if I simply forgave as I’ve been forgiven?
- Keep an eternal perspective; one day all things will be made right.
No matter what regrets you now carry, one day all will be restored by our Lord who loves us and has gone ahead to prepare a place for us. In heaven there will be no grieving, no disappointments. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).
For now, we have the Word to direct us, Jesus to show us the way, and God’s peace-filled eternity planned for us. We can look confidently to forever spent with Him.
Today, let us embrace God’s best for us—no regrets!
* All verses CSB unless otherwise noted
Originally from the Deep South, Natalie Hall and her husband, along with their three children, served twelve years in the Far North of Alaska with SEND North. They now continue their work with SEND from the much warmer state of Texas. True to her southern roots, she loves sweet tea, front porch rocking chairs, and a strong cup of morning coffee. Natalie frequently writes about her many Alaskan experiences and has a passion for sharing with others how they can step out in faith to be a part of God’s plan in the world – whether near or far.