Continuing our series on the “Enemy Behind the Line“, I wanted to spend some time on one enemy I have had to confront in my own spiritual walk: regret.
How would you define regret? It can be a somewhat ambiguous word. Of the various definitions researched, I believe the best found defined regret as a feeling of sorrow or remorse for a fault, act, loss, disappointment, etc.
Are there memories, decisions, or events that once they enter your mind, the immediate effect is regret? Personally, I equate regret with a deep sense of darkness that overtakes my soul. Physically, there are times where I feel everything from a headache forming in the base of my head to a burning in my chest. It amazes me how one emotion can cause such serious physical manifestations.
There are decisions in life I regret, perhaps minor decisions that could have had a tremendous effect on my life and the lives of those around me. There are events or situations I handled that leave me with a tremendous sense of regret. The most dangerous of regrets is that over our sin. This is the enemy that not only sneaks behind the line of defense most Christian Men put up, but it tends to camp out and slowly corrupt the rest of the troops if left undetected. What is the difference between conviction and regret?
For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.
2 Corinthians 7:10
There is a difference in godly grief versus regret. For the longest time, I struggled trying to understand the difference between conviction and regret or guilt. Honestly, I still struggle with this aspect of my faith and consistently have to remind myself of 2 Corinthians 7:10. One great way I learned to discern the difference between the two was by simply asking myself, “Is this feeling pushing me toward or away from Christ?”
Godly grief or conviction generally draws us closer to Christ. Most of the time, when I feel convicted over a particular event or behavior, the Holy Spirit is convicting me on the need for confession and repentance. Guilt or regret usually has me wanting to hide myself from Christ, embarrassed and unwilling at times to go before the throne. Regret is the motivator for taking those events, decisions or other items I had previously taken to the cross and left in Christ’s hands back into my own hands to try to “fix.” It never works, but for some reason, a number of Christians fall prey to this deadly, and at times, elusive enemy.
Last example for you regarding regret. Have you ever tried driving in rush hour traffic while looking only in your rear view mirror? Not very helpful is it? I cannot think of a better example of regret. Sometimes, the Enemy will convince us to believe The Lie and we spend more of our time focusing on the sins of the past. Again, if they are sins needing to be confessed and repented of, they would not qualify as regret, rather, they would qualify as the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
The Enemy knows if he can get our focus more on what we didn’t do for Christ in our past, we would miss the potential opportunities for us to work within Christ’s will for our lives in the present. So many Christian Men remain trapped by regret and do not find the opportunities for ministry in their offices, families, churches or communities. Regret serves as an anchor holding one in place rather than moving forward toward their Savior. How do you get this enemy out of your camp? Prayer is the obvious answer, but I challenge you to embrace the aspect of prayer that will help you most with this particular enemy… Surrender.
Surrender is a subject we will discuss in the next post, it warrants its own post. Just to give you a mental picture of what surrender looks like, I found a picture of what Christ might be telling you if you are suffering from regret or the “rear view mirror syndrome.”
If you liked this post, you might want to check out the others in this series:
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About the Writer:
Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.
As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses. This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.