Summary: Have you ever seen that Milky Way commercial where this guy is getting a tattoo and it was supposed to say no regrets but the artist messed up and it comes out saying no regerts instead? He thought he had no regrets but he was wrong!
Have you ever seen that Milky Way commercial where this guy is getting a tattoo and it was supposed to say no regrets but the artist messed up and it comes out saying no regerts instead? He thought he had no regrets but he was wrong!
But erroneous tattoos obviously aren't the only mistakes that are regrettable. We have probably had a lot of them over the years. It's been said that the most painful thing in life is regret. I can see why a person would say this. When we wish we would've done something or not done something and now it's too late. That can haunt us.
But then you have the people who say they have no regrets. I don't know about you, but whenever I hear that it bothers me. I know in theory, you say everything happens for a reason and the choices you made all worked together to bring you to the place you are now. And if you had it to do all over again you wouldn't change a thing. I have some issues with that.
I think we should have regrets over our mistakes regardless of how well things turned out in the end. There are plenty of poor choices I've made over the years where I would gladly welcome a do-over. That doesn't mean I think we should walk around in guilt and shame over all the bad decisions we've made. But to look back on our lives as if all the foolish things we've done were meant to be, isn't right. There should be some things we've done that we wish we could change.
But we can't change the past. Should we be focused on the things we've done that we can't change?
1) What's the problem with having no regrets?
One problem is that it can cause us to minimize our actions. When we feel that our poor choices all worked to shape us into a better person today then it's like we're viewing those poor choices as a positive thing. In doing so we minimize and can even glamorize our poor choices. Doing this leaves no room for regret. It doesn't leave any room for change, either. How can I learn from my mistakes if I don't feel any regret?
Think about it in regards to our words. I'm sure you've said some things that you wish you could take back. That's having regret over your words. Quote, “Speak when you're angry and you'll make the best speech you will ever regret”. But what about the people that don't regret what they say? The ones who like to speak their mind.
Perhaps you've heard people say this about someone: 'you never have to wonder what's on their mind because they're going to tell you'. The problem is the person would look at this as a good thing; a positive trait. 'I'm just telling it like it is' they would say, 'just keeping it real'. Having this mindset results in someone not regretting some of the things they say; although they should.
Proverbs 12:18a, “Reckless words pierce like a sword.” Reckless means irresponsible, thoughtless, uncontrolled. These are not positive traits. Some people might glamorize being uncontrolled, calling it wild and uninhibited; a non-conformist. Therefore my words aren't reckless, they're bold and brave. Anyone who doesn't speak their mind is a coward.
This is a problem. It doesn't take others into consideration. In a warped way they may think they're doing people a favor by being so brash. The irony is if someone was that way toward them they wouldn't like it. They justify when they do it but vilify it when it's done to them.
Another problem with having no regrets is that it means there's no godly sorrow. Having godly sorrow involves regretting what we've done. I feel bad about what I've done and I wish I hadn't. A synonym for regret is to be repentant. That's what godly sorrow leads to as Paul said in 2 Cor. 7:10.
I can feel bad about what I've done but the question is why do I feel bad? Do I feel bad because I got caught and now I'm in trouble? Is my regret centered around regretting that I wasn't smarter about doing the wrong thing? That's not true regret; that's not true sorrow.
Godly sorrow first stems from recognizing that I've wronged God. That takes the focus off of me so that my sorrow is not about how I've been impacted by my poor choices but rather how my poor choices have dishonored God and how my poor choices have affected others. I can still feel bad over what my poor choices caused me but that won't be the main reason why I'm sorrowful.
The person who has no sorrow over their poor choices have no feelings of guilt or shame. Zephaniah 3:5 says that the unrighteous know no shame. In fact, the people who have no regrets really wouldn't see any of their choices as bad ones. If we justify, rationalize or excuse the bad decisions we make we're in trouble. If we blame someone else for our poor choices, we're not going to take responsibility for our actions. If we don't regret our poor choices we are doomed to repeat them. This is pride and denial.