Jesus said to him, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. John 14:6 (NASB)
I’m showing my age now. Remember the Frank Sinatra song, “Regrets, I’ve had a few…I did it my way.” No offense to “Ole Blue Eyes” but, the times I most regret in my life are the times I insisted on doing things my way.
We began a new series in my Connect Group Sunday called Beauty from Ashes. Sunday’s lesson was Redeemed from Poor Choices. We’ve all made choices we regret, some of them are major, like marriage or divorce, and some simple, like an extra helping of dessert when we should have been watching our sugar intake.
As I read that title, I can’t help but remember when my daughter Kara died, and I spread her ashes at the Roaring Run waterfall. I didn’t want to do it, but I followed her instructions not to “leave her sitting on my mantel.” When Krystal and I came down the hill from the waterfall, there were nine butterflies feasting on those ashes. It was a beautiful sight that spoke to both of us of God’s mercy and provision in our times of grief.
So what is the difference between regret, remorse, and repentance? As Christians, are we supposed to have regrets? Remorse? We know we’re supposed to have repentance, but how is it different from the other two?
My dictionary defines regret as ‘to feel sorry, disappointed, or distressed about’ something. Remorse is ‘moral anguish’ or ‘bitter regret’. You don’t have to have committed a sin to be disappointed or distressed. Sometimes we do pay the penalty for the sins of others. Remorse, on the other hand, does signify sin. Unfortunately, it does not necessarily signify repentance. We know that Judas had remorse. He felt so bad about what he had done, he went out and hanged himself.
Regret and remorse are not enough. We must have repentance. Repentance is best described as a U-turn. We must turn away from that sin which ensnares us. Those who claim the Name of Christ CANNOT continue to live in sin. It’s an oxymoron. We must utterly reject sin.
Yet we know we do sin. We’re human. We fail. We have regrets. So, what do we mean by not continuing to live in sin? I know I’m being contradictory here. I think I’m talking about being satisfied to remain as we are. We can sin, but we must not live in it. We’re meant to be growing in faith, striving to be the person Christ means us to be. In this lifetime, we’ll never be perfect, but every time Christ points out something to us, we need to seek to correct it, to move forward, even if it’s only an inch at a time. Paul says in Philippians 3:14, “Not that I have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus…” As long as we do that, we have no need to look back, or have any regrets. He promises He “works all things” (and that means both the good and the bad) “together for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.” We can never do it in our own strength. He is the only way, and His is our strength for living the Christian life. He does redeem us from our poor choices. He can make beauty from ashes.
Teresa Pollard Author
Teresa G Pollard
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