BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.’ And they said, ‘What is that to us? You see to it!’ Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself. But the chief priests took the silver pieces and said, ‘It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, because they are the price of blood.’ And they consulted together and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, ‘And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced, and gave them for the potter’s field, as the LORD directed me” (Matt 27:3-10 NKJV).
Regret is not always before an incident, event, decision, etc. but after – sometimes much later. In life, we take decisions and actions – some of which we regret later. We feel sad or sorry about something we did or didn’t do. That means given another opportunity, we’ll do those things differently. Nobody can say he’s satisfied with every decision or action he took in the past except he has not learnt anything or he’s deceiving himself. The best thing is not to make any mistake in life but that only happens in a dreamland.
Wisdom is in trying as much as possible to avoid making mistakes and learning from our mistakes (and the mistakes of others) – not lamenting or brooding over them or denying them. Denying our mistakes makes us vulnerable to repeating them. We should learn from our past mistakes, avoid a repeat and never allow our mistakes to cripple us.
What lessons have you learnt from your past errors? You can’t afford to keep on living your lives making the same mistakes. And the truth is that the consequences of some wrong decisions and actions may be so terrible that they may not even provide someone another opportunity – they can cause death. Gambling with life’s opportunities is dangerous. You must learn fast, and not waste your opportunities.
We live in an imperfect world, dealing with imperfect people (including yourself) who do things that cause regrets for us. So we may not be able to eliminate regrets completely, but we can minimize them. If you’re going to fulfill God’s purpose for your life, you must minimize things that cause regrets especially over important issues in your life – you can’t afford many mistakes on very critical issues that you’ll be regretting over because some of these could have serious, irreversible consequences.
Regrets by Solomon, Judas, Esau and David
In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon reviewed his life, talked about all the things he had done and regretted his life of pleasure. He eventually described all his pursuit as meaningless, utterly meaningless – vanity of vanities, all is vanity (Eccl 1:2, 12:8). They all amounted to grasping for the wind (Eccl 1:14, 17, 2:11, 17, 26, 4:4, 6, 16, 6:9).
Also, Judas Iscariot regretted his betrayal of Jesus and went to commit suicide after his partners in crime had refused to collect back from him the thirty silver coins he had collected from them to betray Jesus (Matt 27:3-8). When the reality dawned on him that Jesus was actually going to be killed after his trial, he regretted his action but it was too late.
Esau also regretted selling his birthright. He wept bitterly but repentance was too late for him (Heb 12:16-17; Gen 25:29-34).
David regretted his action which led to the killing of eighty-five priests and the destruction of the city of priests (Nob) by Saul (1 Sam 22:11-22). David didn’t exonerate himself because he had lied to Abimelech who gave him food, sword and consulted for him; Abimelech didn’t know David was running from King Saul (verses 1-10). But David’s regret was too late; he could do nothing to reverse the death of the priests and destruction of the city of Nob.
In 2 Sam 12, Prophet Nathan confronted David with his sexual immorality with Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba, and the killing of Uriah. David admitted his sin and said, “I have sinned against the Lord” (verse 13). He regretted and repented of his sin. Though God forgave him and he didn’t die, he didn’t totally escape the consequences of his action.
Regret is not enough
2 Cor 7:10 says, “Sorrow without repentance is the kind that results in death” (NLT). Regret or sorrow over your wrong actions isn’t enough. Genuine repentance must follow – an admission of sin must be followed with an end of the sinful behavior. David’s regret was accompanied by genuine repentance hence God immediately forgave him.
We also see his sincere regret and genuine repentance after the census he conducted despite Joab’s counsel against it. “But after he had taken the census, David’s conscience began to bother him. And he said to the LORD, ‘I have sinned greatly and shouldn’t have taken the census. Please forgive me, LORD, for doing this foolish thing’” (2 Sam 24:10 NLT).
Sorrow or regret without repentance is useless. David said, “I have sinned.” But it is not enough to say, “I have sinned.” Compare the “I have sinned” of David which I have pointed out in 2 Sam 24:10 and 2 Sam 12:13 to that of Saul in 1 Sam 15:24, 30. Saul’s admission of sin was not sincere.
David’s sins were forgiven but Saul’s sin wasn’t forgiven. God looks at the heart (1 Sam 16:7). Saul wasn’t sincere. He was only interested in Samuel returning with him to go and worship the LORD (1 Sam 15:25, 30). He was more concerned about being respected by the people than the gravity of his sin. His interest was more important to him than God’s interest. The feeling of the people was of more priority to him than God’s feeling. Hear Saul: “I have sinned; yet honor me now, please, before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, that I may worship the LORD your God” (1 Sam 15:30-31NKJV). Did you see that he was more concerned about looking good than doing good? He was more interested in shoring up his reputation than changing his character. Of what use is the worship of a disobedient king? God searches all hearts (1 Chron 28:9 Prov 20:22). God knows the difference between a sincere repentance and a pretentious one.
During the plagues in Egypt, two times Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron and told them “I have sinned” but he wasn’t truly repentant. You’ll find this in Exo 9:27 and Exo 10:16. Despite saying, “I have sinned,” he remained stubborn and didn’t release the Israelites to go until the last plague, the tenth one – the death of all the firstborn of the Egyptians including firstborn of cattle. Regret is not the same as repentance. Without repentance, one can still repeat an action one regretted doing.
If one lives a life full of regrets, one will have too many tales of woes to tell – stories of injuries against self and others, stories of lost opportunities that couldn’t be regained. One needs to learn from past mistakes and avoid a repeat. Regret could be heavy or light in terms of the consequences. Just as some actions are irreversible, some consequences are inevitable.
What to do to Minimize regrets
1.Repent of all the wrong choices and mistakes you’ve made in the past and forgive yourself. I’m talking about genuine repentance not the kind of admission of sin by Saul as I’ve pointed out in 1 Sam 15:24, 30. On the other hand, David was genuinely repentant and Prophet Nathan said God had forgiven him (2 Sam 12:13).
Also in 1 Chron 21:8, after conducting a census which God was not pleased with, David admitted his sin and repented. He was so pained when he saw the angel striking innocent people and felt that himself and his father’s house should have been punished and the people exempted (2 Sam 24:17). That was a demonstration of sincere repentance. David didn’t regret so as to keep his position.
Repent, confess your sin and make right whatever you can still make right (restitution). After asking God for forgiveness, you must also forgive yourself. Let the past go with the past; face today and your future, and make the best of them. Don’t let your displeasure about your past mistakes or sins destroy your today and tomorrow.
2. Make God the focus of your life. This starts with surrendering your life to Jesus and inviting him into your life as your Lord and Savior. Obey the Word of God and listen to the Spirit of God. Do what the Word says not what you like to do, what others are doing or what is trending. Live by Bible principles, not human philosophies. You can’t obey the Word of God and regret later, and you can’t disobey the Word of God and not regret later. “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams” (1 Sam 15:22 NKJV). Isa 1:19-20 says, “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken” (NKJV).
Obey the Word of God concerning your relationship with God and others, and concerning yourself especially your spiritual life, physical body, parents, family, finances, etc. Set your priorities right; be guided by the Word of God. Nobody turns his back on God and never regrets later.
The Spirit of God always agrees with the Word of God. One recurring statement in the book of Revelation is: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 29, 3:6, 13, 22). Do you have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to you? The Spirit of God will never lead you to do what you’ll regret doing. Listen to what the Spirit says to you. Regrets always follow disobeying the voice of the Spirit of God.
3. Avoid the works of the flesh; let the Holy Spirit produce his fruit in you. Gal 5:19-25 talks about the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. Anyone who practises the works of the flesh – sexual immorality, impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, idolatry, participation in demonic activities, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, divisions, the feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other kinds of sin – will regret later (Gal 5:19-21).
Let the Holy Spirit produce in you the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22-23) and you won’t regret in life. This happens as you yield the control of your life to the Holy Spirit.
4. Always consider ahead the likely consequences, especially long-term consequences, of your action or inaction. Think before you act or speak. The reverse isn’t the best. Don’t act in haste. “Zeal without knowledge is not good; a person who moves too quickly may go the wrong way” (Prov 19:2 NLT). Think of the implications of your actions or decisions not just in the immediate but even in the distant future. What appears beneficial today may have painful repercussions tomorrow. Don’t enjoy today but begin to suffer tomorrow. Live a productive life; don’t live a life of pleasure.
It’s also important that you don’t allow God-given opportunities to elude you. Suppose David had failed to seize the opportunity to fight Goliath. He probably wouldn’t have been known today as he is even if he still became a king as he did. Make the most of every opportunity for doing good; don’t act thoughtlessly (Eph 5:16-18).
5. Invest your time in productive ventures. Many people are regretting today because they failed in the past to invest their time well. Others missed their time. May you not miss your time.
Friend, don’t procrastinate. Procrastination is the thief of destiny! “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done” (Eccl 11:4 NLT). Time and tide wait for no man. Time is a scarce commodity. God doesn’t give you sufficient time to do just anything that tickles your fancy. You have only limited time which you should invest in your destiny, your family and people so important to you.
Use your time productively; don’t live for pleasure. Don’t overcommit yourself; decongest your life. Make the most of every opportunity for doing good; don’t act thoughtlessly (Eph 5:15-18).
6. Avoid wrong companionship. Wrong relationships can ruin your life, and you will regret your foolishness. Relationship, courtship, friendship, partnership, etc. are all ‘ships’ you enter by choice not by force. Like someone said, “A friend is a present you give yourself” (Robert Louis Stevenson). Choose wisely the ‘ships’ you sail on, on the sea of life, and disembark if sailing on a particular ‘ship’ proves dangerous. “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray” (Prov 12:26 KJV). According to Prov 13:20, “Whoever walks with the wise will become wise; whoever walks with fools will suffer harm” (NLT). Bad company corrupts good character (1 Cor 15:33).
7. Don’t reject godly advice. It isn’t wisdom to reject godly advice. No one is self-sufficient. Even the most spiritually discerning may sometimes be confused about what to do. There’s wisdom and safety in listening to good counselors (Prov 11:14). If only David had listened to Joab, he would have saved himself the needless sorrow of seeing the plague kill seventy thousand Israelites (1 Chron 21:14; 2 Sam 24:15). Seek godly advice especially before taking important decisions you’re not sure about.
There are crucial issues that your spouse could sometimes have divine insight into. Please put your ego aside and listen to your wife or husband. Nobody knows it all. However, it’s not every advice masquerading as godly advice that is godly. Be guided by the Word and Spirit of God.
Conclusion: No matter the wrong choices and decisions you’ve made in the past, you can make the rest of your life the best of your life. That’s my prayer for you. May your life not be full of regrets later in life in Jesus’ name.
If you’re not born again, you need to make yourself ready for eternity. I urge you to take the following steps:*Admit you’re a sinner and you can’t save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start to attend a Bible-believing, Bible -teaching church. There you will be taught how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: “0 Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent and confess my sins. I confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and surrender my life to him today. I invite Jesus into my heart today. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you Jesus for saving me and making me a child of God.”
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible believing, Bible teaching church in your area where you will be taught how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things becoming all God wants you to be. I’ll be glad to hear from you. May the Lord be with you.
T.O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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