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DEVOTIONAL GUIDE: Regrets can serve a useful purpose

A life without regrets sounds good, but regret can do us both a service and a disservice.

Pastor Joshua Hawn
Contributed / Joshua Hawn
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When missionary William Borden died, his family was sent his Bible. Borden had given up a vast fortune to serve God as a missionary, but died in language school in Egypt before he could get to China to evangelize the Muslim Uyghurs.

Inside the Bible, it is said these words were found: “No Reserve, no retreat, no regrets.” I think all of us would like to end our lives being able to say, “No regrets.”

Of course, this is not true for many of us. I am especially plagued with my wrongdoings from the past: harsh parenting, times of sin and cowardice, lost opportunities, times of ill temper and wrong decisions.

Regret renders a service. It helps us avoid mistakes we have made in the past. If you regret wasting time on your phone instead of playing with your kids yesterday, hopefully that will make you a more “present” parent today.

The disservice that regret plays is that it cripples us with guilt.


I don’t understand how a person cannot have regrets, and yet I hear this sentiment today from many in our society. Some claim that they have no regrets: “If I admitted that I had regrets, I would be denying the person I have become today.”

Whether it is bad business dealings, prison, divorce or choices that turned out badly, there is this aversion to admitting that we wish we hadn’t done those things. If we admit it, we would say that we don’t like who we are today.

Consider two verses. First, 1 John 1:8, which says: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” We need to admit that we have sinned and regret it.

Second, Genesis 50:20, where Joseph says to his brothers, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.”

They had regret for what they had done to Joseph, even though by their sins, they were saved from famine. Rather than giving their sins a pass, Joseph extols the goodness of God to bring good out of our sins, even and especially the ones we regret.

Faith briefs from area churches.

Pastor Joshua Hawn serves at First Baptist Church in Park Rapids.
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