But There’s Good News!
Regret serves its purpose, but by God’s grace, we aren’t meant to carry it for long. Guilt that leads to remorse is a good thing. It hurts. We want it to go away. But remorse leads us to repentance which leads us right to where God wants us to be.
This is a hard concept for me to accept, because I can vividly remember each and every stupid thing I have done in my life. Every embarrassing moment replays in my mind whenever I’m called upon to speak in public, to reach out to someone in friendship, or even to share the Gospel. I just know that I will say the wrong thing, freeze up and say nothing at all, or completely botch it up because I can point to times in my past where I’ve done exactly that.
Learning From the Past
It never occurred to me until recently, however, that God designed our lives this way so that we can learn from our past. Don’t you think Eve ever wished she could go back in time and, oh, I don’t know, maybe not bite into a certain tempting piece of fruit? When she experienced separation from God and the Garden, when she felt the pain of childbirth, and when she mourned the loss of her son Abel, do you think she might have begged God for a chance to go back and undo her first sin or any of the numerous mistakes that followed?
And so, regret has existed ever since Eve listened to the serpent in the Garden. But even then, in a world-changing moment that set the fate of the human race, God didn’t step in and say “I know you could do better if you had another chance. Let’s just start this day over and give you another go.”
No. God allowed them to reap the consequences of their mistakes. He allowed them to feel the full weight of the regret and guilt those mistakes brought. He mercifully allowed their mistakes to draw them back to Him in repentance. He does the same for us today.
Without sin we would not experience regret. But since we are sinners who will inevitably sin, God, in His grace, designed to use the result of our sin—regret—to draw us back into communion with Him. Without regret, we would not repent. And without repentance, we would not know God.
The Beauty of Redemption
The beauty of God’s redemptive design is that once our regrets lead us to repentance, we are completely freed from the shame of our pasts. And that is what I want to emphasize.
In I Corinthians 6:9-10, Paul lists a multitude of sinners, from idolaters to adulterers to drunkards. In verse 11, however, he states:
“And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
We Are Not Defined by Our Past
The sins you have committed in the past—they’re what you were. If you are a child of God and have confessed your past sins, you are not defined by your past anymore. Jesus died for those sins, and He did not die in vain. If you have repented of the mistakes in your past, you have been covered in Christ’s righteousness.
You do not have to sweep your past sins and their consequences under your clean Christian doormat. God has miraculously changed you. He has amazingly forgiven you. You can share your past mistakes with others without shame. They show your imperfection, yes, but more importantly, they show God’s grace.
Don’t be afraid to admit to your past mistakes. Because of God, you are no longer defined by them. And you can give that hope to others who are still struggling with things He has given you victory over.
God knows you have a past full of painful mistakes. But when He looks at you today, He sees Christ’s righteousness. Choose today to allow the present God has given you guide you from a bitter past to a sweet future.
How have you chosen to allow the gift of redemption to guide you from a bitter past to a sweet future?
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