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.