Summary: God has given us the ability to feel regret so it will lead us to repent and trust God to make something beautiful and useful out of our lives.
A. One day, Lou Gehrig, the famous New York Yankee first basemen came to the plate with two outs in the 9th inning and the potentially winning runs on 2nd and 3rd bases.
1. The count against Gehrig went to full count – 3 balls and 2 strikes.
2. The pitcher wound up and let the ball go with all he had – the ball was a smoking fastball right over the middle of the plate and Gehrig didn’t swing the bat.
3. The umpire called, “Strike three!” (game over!)
4. Very slowly, Lou Gehrig turned and spoke to the umpire.
5. At this the crowd went wild, because Gehrig never spoke back to the umpire.
6. The reporters swarmed around the umpire asking “What did Lou Gehrig say to you?”
7. The umpire smiled and called for Lou Gehrig to come over.
8. The umpire said, “Lou, tell these men what you said to me when I called that third strike.”
9. Lou replied, “I only said, ‘Mr. Ump, I would give ten dollars to have that one back!’”
B. How many countless billions of people would give ten dollars or ten thousand dollars to get just one minute back in order to change something they said or did, or something they didn’t say or do!
1. That’s what feelings of regret are all about.
2. Today, as we conclude our sermon series on emotions, I want us to explore feelings of regret.
3. The first emotions we explored at the beginning of this series were guilt and shame.
4. And although there is some similarity and overlap between regret and guilt and shame, they are not the same emotions.
C. So, what is regret?
1. Webster’s dictionary defines regret as “sorrow aroused by circumstances beyond one’s control or power to repair.”
2. Regret is sorrow or remorse over something in the past that happened or over something we did that we cannot change or repair.
3. Regret can also be a sense of disappointment over what has not happened, missed opportunities or wasted years.
4. To be human is to have regrets because making mistakes and sinning is a universal experience.
5. The regrets we have can be about big things or they might be about small things, and they can be about what we did or didn’t do.
6. Here are a few examples of possible things we might regret:
a. We might regret having taken a promotion at work or not having taken the promotion.
b. We might regret having told that person off, or regret not saying something when we had the chance.
c. We might regret having gotten into a relationship with someone, or regret not mustering the courage to ask them out.
d. We might regret not paying careful enough attention to what we were doing because we ended up sending a sensitive text or email to the wrong person, or we might regret not paying enough attention while driving and got into an accident.
e. Erwin Lutzer tells about a missionary airplane mechanic who got distracted while fixing an airplane and forgot to tighten a bolt, which led to the death of 7 young missionary men. Imagine the regret he felt as he attended the funerals and saw the grief of those seven young widows.
D. Our regrets can be so painful and hard that we don’t appropriately face them and deal with them.
1. There are two opposite responses to our regrets that can both be damaging.
2. On one extreme, we seek to distance ourselves from our regrets.
a. One way to distance ourselves from our regrets is to discard them.
1. First, we might discard them by minimizing them – telling yourself it was no big deal.
2. Second, we might discard them by rationalizing them – everybody is doing it or compared to others I’m not so bad. We lower our standards to fit what we are doing.
b. A second way to distance ourselves from our regrets is to displace them by playing the blame game – we pass the blame and responsibility on to others.
1. It’s not my fault, if they had not done what they did, I wouldn’t have done what I did.
2. We love to accuse others and excuse ourselves.
3. The opposite extreme, is to dwell on our regrets to the point that we allow them to destroy us.
a. We believe that we must be punished for the things we regret, but how much punishment is sufficient?
b. In an article Rick Warren wrote for Charisma News, he wrote: “We try to pay for our guilt unconsciously through illness, depression, setting ourselves up for failure and other forms of self-punishment. But the problem with beating yourself up is that your conscience never knows when to stop. Some people spend their entire lives in self-condemnation.”