Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross
Did you see the candy bar commercial where the tattoo artist was so into her chocolate that she accidentally inked the words “no regerts” onto the arm of the tough, bald guy? When somebody eats something with high calories but that is tasty or stays up too late at our house doing something fun, they might borrow that phrase. There may be some cost involved, but the point is that it was worth it.
Yet, there is really only one area where there can truly be no regrets. There is a word in the New Testament that means “experiencing remorse” (TDNT 589). With this word, there is “the sense that one wishes it could be undone, be very sorry” (BDAG 639). It is found five times and translated “regret,” “feel remorse,” and “change his mind.”
- In the parable of the two sons, one was asked by his father to work in his vineyard. He answers, “I will not,” then “afterward he regretted it and went” (Mat. 21:29). In explaining the parable, Jesus rebukes the chief priests and the elders because they did not feel remorse (regret) for not believing the message of John the Baptist (Mat. 21:32).
- In Matthew 27:3, Judas felt remorse about betraying Jesus. While he returned the 30 pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, he did not return to Jesus like Peter did. He took his own life.
- Paul at first felt regret for causing the Corinthians sorrow, but ultimately he did not regret it. Why? Because he helped them achieve “a repentance without regret” (2 Cor. 7:8,10).
- The writer of Hebrews quotes Moses and Samuel to remind us that God “will not change His mind” (7:21). He is perfect and, unlike man, makes no mistake or misstep that he should change it.
These passages give us some great insight about how we can conduct our lives without regret. First, we will not regret serving our Father, even if it goes against the grain of what we prefer or desire. What we will regret is knowing He wants us to work in His vineyard but letting something, anything, to keep us from it. Alexander Graham Bell is credited with saying, “When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.” True regret is not seeking the open door of service.
Second, we will not regret the effort and self-denial involved in repentance. It will hurt and cause us sorrow, but it will produce an end we truly want if we are thinking as we should be. That was Paul’s message to Corinth and to us. We cannot let our remorse be so strong that it keeps us, like it kept Judas, from overcoming the overwhelming tendency of guilt which Satan will use to defeat us.
I don’t suppose any of us make it through this life without thoughts, words, and actions we regret. But, there is a difference between momentary regret and a regret you cannot overcome. Thankfully, God gives us the needed insight and encouragement to break free from the prison of regret. He calls us to a life of no regret. Let us live it!