Mailbag, Marriage

The Mailbag: Regrets, I’ve had a few…more.

 

Your article The Mailbag: Regrets…I Still Have a Few is excellent! I have a related question…what if the thing you regret isn’t a sin? What if it is a decision you made that now you wish you hadn’t made? I don’t know how to deal with something like this.

Thank you!

It’s always good to try to think these things through biblically. I’m glad you’re doing that! It’s a little difficult to answer without knowing what the circumstances are, but sometimes that’s good because it allows me to take a more “general principles” approach that can help other readers out with their own situations. So here are some principles we can all consider in a situation like this:

⇒ Get out your Bible and make absolutely certain that whatever you’re regretting isn’t a sin, because we have to deal with sins one way and non-sins another way. When the reader mentions “something you regret that isn’t a sin,” I’m thinking of things like: “I wish I had taken job A instead of job B.” “I wish I hadn’t moved so far away from my extended family.” “I wish we had homeschooled our kids instead of putting them in public school.” Things like that are not sins. Things like, “I wish I hadn’t committed adultery and ruined my marriage,” are.

⇒ Spend some time in prayer and in Scripture examining your heart about why you regret the decision you made. Maybe the decision itself wasn’t sinful, but the regrets you’re having are? Do you wish you had taken that other job because you’re coveting the higher income it would have given you? Do you wish you had homeschooled so the other moms would look up to you and admire you?

Or maybe what’s motivating your regret isn’t sinful. Maybe you regret being so far from your extended family because you were the only gospel influence in their lives. May you now see that taking the other job would have allowed you to spend more time with your kids. Only you and God can sort out the motives of your heart.

⇒ Is there a way to fix things in a biblical direction? If what’s motivating your regret is sinful (pride, coveting, etc.), job one is to repent and ask God to change your heart about the situation. If your regrets aren’t sinful, is there anything you can do to alleviate the situation in a godly way? Could you cut back on your hours to spend more time with your kids? Video chat with your extended family more often to continue being that gospel witness? Think about whether or not there’s anything you can do about the situation.

⇒ Be content:

…I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. Philippians 4:11b
…But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 1 Timothy 6:8
…Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
…O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. Psalm 131:1-2

⇒ Trust God’s sovereignty- especially if, at the time, you were trying to make the most godly decision you could make and be as obedient to Him as you knew how to be. God has put you in the situation you’re in right now for His glory and your good. You didn’t end up where you are by accident. And the God who has brought you to where you are is capable of using the decision you made that you now regret to bring Himself glory, to do something for you, in you, through you, or with you, and maybe even to minister to someone else.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. Proverbs 3:5-7

⇒ Move forward, and keep striving to make godly decisions in the future.

But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, Philippians 3:13b-15a
Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. Psalm 37:3-5

Dwelling on regrets isn’t spiritually healthy. We certainly never see God praising anyone for looking back on the past and fretting. (After all, look what happened when Lot’s wife looked back! :0) There’s nothing you can do to change the past. All we can do is press on and live today for the glory of God.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

2 thoughts on “The Mailbag: Regrets, I’ve had a few…more.”

  1. I am praising God for your wonderful insights expressed in this article! Your words and the supporting Scriptures were exactly what I needed to hear. In my own experience, regrets often turn to bitterness, which I recognize as one of my repeated sins. Thank you for your continuing godly counsel. In my own life, I definitely need to get to the root of the regrets and deal with them biblically, before they fester into bitterness.

    Like

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