Grace for Regret

One of my favorite scriptures is Philippians 3:7-14. “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ – yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.  Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 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. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” NIV

As the years have clicked by, my understanding of this text has expanded. I now understand much clearer the reality of “pressing in and on.”  As Paul indicated in this text, in order to strain toward what is ahead, you have to let go of what is behind. In fact, the Greek word for forgetting means literally, to lose out of mind. A person cannot embrace the future if we are clinging to history.

Frequently, the difficulty in moving forward is dealing with the regret(s) of yesterdays. No one is perfect and everyone sins. Life is complicated and humans sometimes make poor choices. When we do, we have legitimate sorrow, remorse and regret.  Grace is that wonderful gift that comes to our aid in dealing with the issues of the regret of our yesterdays. It is a gift from God. It is the “unmerited favor” of God and the “supernatural influence on the heart and its reflection seen in the life.”  

I have been reading a daily devotional by Paul David Tripp called New Morning Mercies. In today’s devotional, there are several points I would like to quote. “It is grace to not be paralyzed by regret. The cross teaches that you are not stuck, not cursed to pay forever for your past.”

“It’s a grace to regret. Grace allows you to face your sin, to own it and not shift the blame. But it is also grace that forgives what has been exposed. Grace forces you to feel the pain of your regrets, but never asks you to pay for them, because the price has already been paid by Jesus. Colossians 2:14 talks about how the record of debt that stood against us has been canceled by the sacrifice of Jesus. You can look back, but with your burden lifted by forgiving grace. It is good to look back and celebrate the rescue of grace. It is good to mourn the sins of the past. It is not good to be paralyzed by them. Grace lives at the intersection between clarity of sight and hope for the future. And that grace is yours for the taking, you don’t have to rewrite your past, making yourself look more righteous than you ever really were. You can stare the truth in the face because of what Jesus has done for you. You can own what needs to be owned and confess what needs to be confessed, and then move on to live in a new and better way. The same grace that forgives your past empowers you to live in a new way in the future. So, look backward and look forward. God's grace enable you to do both, celebrating forgiveness of the past and embracing power for a new and better future. Only God’s grace gifts you with peace with your past and hope for your future.”

Keep straining for the goal my friends, God’s grace will enable you to get there. When you have done your best, grace takes care of the rest!

No Comments