Imagine today is your last day on earth. If you were on your deathbed today and you were reflecting on your past, would you have regrets? Maybe you turned down the job that would have given you the boost to travel further in your career. Maybe you turned down an opportunity to serve overseas because you were afraid.
Or maybe you ran out of the chapel on your wedding day. Regret is something we have all experienced at one time or another in our lives. It is not a pleasant feeling to have regret over your past. God does not want you to have regrets and He is ready to help you leave your regrets behind.
Remembering Your Regrets
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines regret as being sorrowful, mournful, or “to be sorry for” a past mistake or decision. A person can feel regret over past mistakes, decisions, or life events. It is not uncommon for many people to regret a specific time period in their life or a certain mistake they made in the past.
If you are dealing with regret today, rest in the knowledge that God can help alleviate your regret. He does not want you to live in a state of regret, misery, and sorrow. If we live in a constant state of looking back and grieving over our regrets, we will never be able to move forward in our lives.
No matter what regrets you may be carrying around, they have been completely forgiven by Jesus. When a person places faith in Christ, they are given forgiveness for all of their sins —whether past, present, or future sins (Ephesians 1:7). After a person becomes a believer, they will still sin; however, asking God for forgiveness will provide the forgiveness you need (1 John 1:9).
The Lord does not want you to dwell in your past regrets. When a person becomes a believer, they are a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). God no longer defines you by your past. He defines you by the blood of Jesus on the cross. You have been redeemed and given freedom in Christ (Galatians 5:1).
True freedom in Christ does not include grieving over past mistakes and regrets. Jesus wants you to stop looking to the past and instead, look to your future with Him. Paul tells us, “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead” (Philippians 3:13).
Somebody who experienced a heavy burden of guilt was the Apostle Paul. Before his conversion, Paul was an aggressive persecutor of Jesus and His followers (Acts 8:3, 9:1-2).
Freely confessing in his first letter to the Corinthians, he writes, “For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God” (1 Corinthians 15:9).
Notice how Paul confesses his past mistake and regret, but he does not dwell on them. Jesus no longer defined Paul by his past regrets, and it is the same for us. God does not define you by your past mistakes, failures, or any regret you may be holding on to.
After Paul tells the Corinthian Church about his past, he tells them, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them — yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).
Paul acknowledged that God gave him grace despite his past. Paul did not live in a state of regret because he knew that his old past failures were forgiven by the flawless blood of Christ.
You can take solace in knowing your past does not define who you are or what God is going to do in your future. You can set down your regrets today by giving them over to Christ. Your regrets have been covered with God’s mercy, grace, and love.
Forgetting Your Past
Our past will always follow us, but just like when you leave a destination and watch it disappear in the rearview mirror, you can leave your past mistakes behind you. God tells us to forget our past and move forward in the new life He has given us.
In Isaiah 43:18-19, God says, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
What we find in the Book of Isaiah still echoes to us today. God is telling us to forget the past and He specifically tells us not to dwell on the past. He wants you to focus on the new things He is doing in your life.
If we dwell in past regrets, we will never be able to do the amazing things He has planned for our lives. You are God’s wonderful masterpiece, and He has an amazing plan for your life (Ephesians 2:10). Since God has told us to leave our regrets behind, we should. God knows what is best for us.
We will shine the brightest for Christ if we are moving forward and looking to the brilliance of the future. The devil wants to keep you held in bondage to your past regrets. Satan knows that if he can keep you dwelling on past regrets that you will not be productive for Christ.
Constantly prowling, Satan is always trying to cause us to be unproductive for Jesus (1 Peter 5:8). You do not have to be a slave to your past regrets. Forget what is behind and run toward what’s ahead.
Just like Paul, we need to “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).
Letting Go of Your Regrets
There are many things you can do to let go of regret. First, you need to give all of your regrets over to Jesus. Place all of your regrets at Jesus’ feet (1 Peter 5:7). Secondly, you need to forgive yourself. Since Jesus has already forgiven you, you need to forgive yourself too.
If you are particularly struggling with forgiving yourself, experts recommend talking to yourself as you would a friend (Ibid.). Be kind to yourself as you would be to your friend. You can try writing your regrets on a piece of paper and then after you have written them down, crumple up the piece of paper, tear it up, or burn it.
When you destroy the list of your regrets, think of it as leaving those regrets in the past. God has chosen to forgive your sins on account of placing faith in Christ. It is time for you to forgive yourself also.
Choose today to let go of your regrets and live in the freedom of Christ. No matter what your past regrets are, they have been forgiven by Christ. He has redeemed you and given you a new life in His Name. There are no reasons to hold onto regret any longer.
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Vivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Christian Ministry and is currently working toward her Master’s Degree. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is probably embarking on an adventure.