Regret and Remorse

On Tuesday, Trisha and I had the opportunity to speak at the Velocity Conference in Atlanta. (Thank you guys so much for your prayers and your words of encouragement.) We spoke to about 800 church leaders. It was an out of body experience. Three years ago, we lived in Indianapolis, not sure if God would open a door to return to ministry, and on Tuesday, spoke to ministry leaders. Only God.

In the introduction of our message, I shared that this June marks the 10 year anniversary of Trisha and I starting Genesis Church. Ten years ago we sold everything we owned. Ten years ago we moved to a community where we knew four people. Ten years ago we leveraged everything for a vision that God had laid on our heart. God started to bless our young church…in some incredible ways.

Then, three years into our dream, I chose to have an affair, and not only gave up my part of that vision, but cost my wife and so many dear friends their part of that vision too.

After we spoke, I was surprised at the most common question I was asked. “Do you regret your decision? If you could go back and undo your choice, would you?”

Unexpectedly, a flood of emotions ran through my heart and mind. Of course I regret my choices! Of course I wish I could take it back! Of course I wish things would have turned out differently! Of course I want to take back all the pain and hurt I caused so many! Regret overwhelmed me.

Then God spoke to my heart about the truth of regret: Living in regret is fools gold.

-Regret convinces you that you have the power to change the past if you feel bad enough, long enough.
-Regret robs you of the gift of grace by trying to get you to make up for your mistakes.
-Regret leads you into a place of shame and guilt and leaves you there wishing things could be different. 
-Regret defeats the spirit of forgiveness and freedom that Jesus died to give you.

Regret isn’t the same as remorse.

Remorse is defined as “deep and painful contrition.” Remorse is being sorry, not for the consequences of sin, but for the act of sinning. Remorse ushers in grace; makes way for redemption; prepares us for healing.

Regret and remorse are totally different.

Maybe you’ve not been authentically remorseful for a choice you made or a sin you committed. What you need is remorse but what you’ve settled for  is regret.

Regret haunts you. Regret robs you of love and joy and peace and you are exhausted. You have convinced yourself if you feel bad enough, long enough, you can make up for it.

You can’t make up for it. No matter how hard you try.

But Jesus can.

You can’t change the past, but you can stop allowing your past regrets rob you of the future God has for you.

 

 

 

22 Responses to Regret and Remorse

  1. Mary Beth

    I love this post!  Such great clarity for me.  My husband and I have a heart for Marriages and ministry couples.  Thanks to you and Trisha for speaking into the lives of so many.  

  2. As much as I hate some of my past actions, I like the life I have now. IOW, I like how God has used my sins and mistakes to grow me up, and how He uses them in me to do minstry.

    Would I change those things at the risk of not being who I am now? I don’t think so.

  3. I’m so glad my husband and I had the opportunity to hear your testimony at the Velocity conference. It was truly a joy to hear how God worked in your family after the pain. I pray that we all can have such faith. Thank You

  4. “Remorse ushers in grace; makes way for redemption; prepares us for healing.” Amen! This is so true and such a beautiful truth. 

  5. Julie

    thank u so much for sharing this, i needed to hear it. Ive done things in my past im not proud and like you said regret has haunted me , robbed me of love,joy, peace and im sure much more.
    the last part:

     You have convinced yourself if you feel bad enough, long enough, you can make up for it.
    You can’t make up for it. No matter how hard you try.  ( what i know i have felt at many times)
    But Jesus can.
    You can’t change the past, but you can stop allowing your past regrets rob you of the future God has for you.

    So true!
    MAy God continue to bless you and use you as his vessel to bless others!

  6. Anne Scholl

    Along with Remorse comes repentance. We must never ever forget that when we sin, we sin against God and God alone, first and foremost (Psalm 51). Thank you for being so Candide and vulnerable. It takes a mighty man of God to share his sins with the world. May God bless you greatly in your ministry. Best wishes.

    • Refineus

       Anne, I couldn’t agree more. The basis of the post was 2 Cor. 7:10. Thank you for your kind words.

  7. Eric

    I wish I could get my wife, who has had an emotional affair, to read this blog. I believe she has regret… regret that I found out about her affair. I’m not truly convinced that she is remorseful. Rarely does she say she’s sorry for letting it get this far… she just says she’s sorry that I found out.

  8. Thank you for this post, Justin. You have helped me understand some things that the enemy has used to taunt me with for far too long.  It’s high time I let him know that we’re done with this discussion.

      • KH

        me too! i’m definitely going to use that! Thank you so much for your article, Justin. My DH is getting a copy, I am praying it will help him as he & God work through a hard, hard past…. letting go & moving on! Praise God!

  9. Justin, thanks for sharing this post. I have struggled with not really knowing what to feel about my past.  I knew that regret would only hold me in bondage but it seemed somehow insensitive to simply dismiss the past without some sort of thoughts about it. By describing the difference between regret and remorse you have helped me bring things into balance. Thank you.

  10. Chrisfay

    Wow! Very powerful. I was at velocity and I admire you for your transparency and your vulnerability. I beleive you have a new ministry now!!! A much needed one!!! Bless you.