So far in our series about regret, we’ve examined three biblical approaches when dealing with guilt, shame, and remorse from previous decisions, words, and actions:
1. Enjoy the freedom of confession.
2. Embrace the gift of forgiveness.
3. Rest in the sovereignty of God’s timing.
These are all actions that you can take today, tomorrow, and for every day that you experience regret. But what about a strategy for spiritual growth so that you have fewer regrets and don’t make the same mistakes repeatedly?
As you reflect on your past, meditate on the sweet promise of hope found in 1 John 1:8–9: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Notice that when you come to God with humble and honest confession, he not only promises to forgive you but also to change you as well! (That’s what it means when it says, “cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”)
When you confess, knowing that there is genuine and complete forgiveness for you, you change. Then, the people and situations around you are affected because you now say and do different things.
By God’s grace, you can participate in a real turn in your story. You can plant a new and better harvest. God invites you to turn from mourning over your previous harvest—regret—and now plant new and better seeds.
“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)
Maybe you mourn the harvest of your parenting. Plant new seeds with different words and actions today! If your children have left the house, work to restore distant or broken relationships with your adult children. Strive to be a wise and godly grandparent, sowing spiritual seeds in the souls of the next generation.
Perhaps you mourn that your career controlled your life. Take advantage of the time and economic freedom now and plant new seeds. Work less and invest in family and ministry more.
Maybe you mourn the fact that you did not study Scripture more diligently in your youth. There are still many opportunities to increase your knowledge of God’s word and your potential for ministry, discipling others in the process as well.
Perhaps you mourn over a selfish life, where all you earned was spent on a more comfortable life for you. Commit to finding specific ways that you can give and serve. Ask yourself: which of my gifts, experiences, resources, and wisdom can I use to invest in others?
Until we die, no harvest is the final harvest. Our God is the author of new seasons. He is the giver of new seeds, new roots, and new fruit. He causes fruits and flowers to grow where weeds and thorns once were.
There is much of life before you. With this promise from 1 John in your heart, you are free to embrace the hope of change and plant new and better seeds.
As his child, you have reason to step forward in faith, hope, and courage, embracing the new life that is always available to you because of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul David Tripp
1. How have you deceived yourself recently, denying the presence and power of sin in your heart and life? Where have you tried to shift the blame or excuse wrongdoing?
2. Why can we still have confidence, courage, and hope, despite the truth that we are still sinners? Get practical. How can you lean into gospel hope and help?
3. How have you reaped a bitter harvest in the past, or where are you reaping that harvest today? What seeds of self-centered decisions, words, and actions did you plant that resulted in this bad fruit?
4. How have you reaped a beautiful harvest by God’s grace? What seeds of Christ-honoring decisions, words, and actions did you plant that resulted in good fruit?
5. What are some specific new and better seeds that you can plant, right here, right now, that will yield a better harvest? Then, how can you ask for the help of the Lord? What temptations or obstacles might get in the way?