Summary: Learn to live a life without regrets.
In 3 weeks we will rejoice at surviving this year and celebrate the beginning of a new year. Let me ask you, “How has 2002 been for you? Did you make resolutions this year and if you did, how did you fare with them?” If you are like the vast majority of people, New Year’s resolutions are made on January 1st and broke before the left-over turkey runs out.
As you look back over 2002, do you have any regrets? Did you intend to do something that you never got around too? Perhaps you wanted to spend more time with family and friends only to discover that you continued with the same pattern as last year. Maybe you wanted to become more committed to the ministry God has called you too or to be more faithful to His house only to find that there were too many other things that kept you away.
If you are like me, it is easy to look to our past and have regrets. Choices we made, things we did, words we spoke, friends we betrayed, people we let down and so on. One has to wonder if it is possible to live a life with no regrets.
The Apostle Paul is nearing the end of his life; he has been arrested by the Roman Emperor Nero and awaits execution. As he sits in his jail cell, I’m sure that many things ran through his mind. He thought of all the missionary journeys he had made, the churches he planted, the people he led to the Lord and all the friends he made. As he reflects over his life, he picks up his pen and paper and writes the words of our text this morning.
You see, as Paul looked back over his life since his conversion and he sees a life of fulfillment and contentment. It certainly wasn’t and easy life nor was it the life his friends thought he would lead. Remember, he was a Pharisee of Pharisees; he excelled above his peers and taught by a famed teacher of the law. He was in the who’s who of society and perhaps everyone expected him to continue to climb the ladder of success. His life was destined to one of ease and privilege until one day as he makes his way along the Damascus road, he has an encounter with the resurrected Lord and his life was radically changed. He was beaten 5 times, stoned once, shipwrecked 3 times, chased by robbers, harassed by Jews, distrusted by Gentiles and yet as he writes, he expresses no words of regret or remorse about the life he lived.
Wouldn’t it be great to be able to live a life of no regrets? Wouldn’t you like to go to your grave with thoughts of a well lived life instead of thoughts of what if? I have conducted many funerals as well as attended many funerals and almost without exception I will run across someone who says, “You now preacher, I wish I would have called a little more often or visited more frequently.” So many face death and only think of what if. What if I have only done this or done that. In a few exceptions I have run across a family that lived with no regrets and when the time came for a loved one to depart, there were no thoughts of what if. You say it is not possible to live life that but I say it is. Sure there are going to be missteps along the way and missed opportunities but there are things we can do to live a life of no regrets.
As the Apostle Paul pens these words, he knew his days were numbered. Moses prayed for God to “teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). Moses was praying that God would help us know the brevity of life and live with no regrets. If you knew that today was your last day to live, how would you live it differently? Most people would do everything they could to mend broken relationships, spend with family and friends and witness to as many people as possible about Jesus.
Paul lived a “no regrets” kind of life. He said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” He was able to face death without enduring the thoughts of things left undone. He didn’t lament over wasted time and missed opportunities. He looked at eternity eyeball to eyeball without regrets. How do we live a life with no regrets?
I. Know how to prioritize
In order to live a life without regrets, we need to know what to live for. The world has it all wrong. They say you only live once so go ahead and grab all the gusto you can. Party hard, live loose because when you die, that’s it. This philosophy teaches that the only thing to live for is immediate satisfaction and gratification. It teaches that the highest purpose in life is to be happy and pain free. But the Bible paints a very different picture of life. In fact, we are warned not to love this world nor the things in this world.