In our first lesson, we imagined that we asked golden sister what regrets she has. Her first set of regrets had to do with her relationship with God. Today, let’s learn from our senior sister about another area of regret. This one has to do with her relationship with her brothers and sisters in Christ.
- Regret #1: Although I did weep with those who wept, I regret that I didn’t rejoice with those who rejoiced.
- Regret #2: I regret not forgiving and forgetting.
- Regret #3: I regret not placing a priority on my Christian friendships.
What are some ways that we can work on our relationships with our fellow Christians now, so that we won’t have these regrets in our golden years?
To vaccinate for Regret #1 (not rejoicing with those who rejoice), we need to examine ourselves.
If we are not genuinely happy for others’ successes, achievements, and blessings, could it be a case of jealousy? Could it be a lack of contentment? It is proper to congratulate; to hold in honor; to rejoice. Starting today, get in the habit of looking for “rejoicing moments” so you can practice joining in. Did a couple recently announce their engagement? Have them over for lunch – celebrate! Is someone going to be a grandmother very soon? Take her out for an ice-cream cone – celebrate! Did someone else’s son win the Bible Bowl? Congratulate him! We teach our children how to behave so that when they’re grown-ups, good traits come naturally to them. Maybe you were never taught to be happy for others. That’s no excuse! Start right now training yourself, so that this will become a very, very good habit. Rejoice!
A vaccine to prevent Regret #2 (not forgiving and forgetting) is to remember how God forgives, and imitate that.
The topic of forgiveness is too vast to cover here, but let us notice two characteristics of God’s forgiveness. Once we have repented, God forgives His children repeatedly (1 John 1:7) and entirely – never bringing our sins up again (Jeremiah 31:34). Praise Him for His great mercy!
Did you know that we are to forgive our brethren “even as” our Lord forgives us? Take a look at Colossians 3:13 and Ephesians 4:32. In these texts, we are told how to interact with each other in the church, including forgiving one another “even as” our Lord has forgiven us. Our forgiveness of one another should mirror our Lord’s forgiveness of us!
Taking our two descriptions of God’s forgiveness (repeatedly and entirely), let’s see if we forgive “even as” we have been forgiven. We need to have an attitude of forgiveness – from our hearts.
Do you forgive repeatedly? Again and again and again – even if it’s the same misdeed? Jesus teaches that if our brother sins against us over and over, and then repents, we must forgive him (Luke 17:3-4). We must not let our hurt feelings rule our hearts. Do you create a list of requirements before you will be merciful? Do you make your offender grovel for mercy until they are sufficiently embarrassed? Or do you forgive “even as” you have been forgiven? Repeatedly?
Do you forgive entirely? When we forgive, it should be as if that person never sinned. Not even the tiniest piece of that transgression should be held on to. Our offender ought to be treated just as they were before the sin was ever committed. They shouldn’t be purposely avoided or talked about. Nor should their sin be brought up again. Do you keep a record of sins, or do you forgive “even as” you have been forgiven? Entirely?
Wendell Winkler has wisely written, “Forgiveness is not putting the offender on probation, while we discuss how inexcusable his behavior was, and then promising to forget it providing no other offenses are forthcoming” (Heart Diseases And Their Cure, pg 8).
Forgiveness is hard to extend at times, but you can do it with God’s help! Pray for a good attitude, for healing. Instead of holding grudges, pray for them. Instead of hoping for their misfortune, treat them well. Start today! “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them” (Matthew 7:12).
What is the vaccine to combat Regret #3 (not placing a priority on my Christian friendships)? Let your Christian friends know how much you care.
This is such an easy vaccine to take, but it does come with one dose of humility and two doses of vulnerability! Have you ever tried to build a friendship, only to have no response from the other party? Whether from poor time-management, non-interest, or just plain flakiness, it hurts to feel as if you are chasing after a friend who appears to be running in the opposite direction! May this never be said of us! Beginning today, make it your aim to treat your brethren like the special people they are. They are God’s children, your family! Now, even though we are family, we are not all going to become the best of friends, but we can and should become friends.
We all have different needs and desires. Author Gary Chapman says “…what makes one person feel loved emotionally is not always the thing that makes another person feel loved emotionally” (The 5 Love Languages, pg 56). Our friendships in Christ would be sweeter if we would remember this! A good rule of thumb is to notice what others do to show love, and do something very similar for them. For example:
- The one who loves to bake goodies for others would probably love it if you baked goodies for her.
- The ones who love to open their home to the church would probably cherish being invited into your home.
- The one who is known for sending notes of encouragement to others would be thrilled to receive a sweet note in her mailbox.
On and on we could go – and we didn’t even mention the huggers, the callers, or the caretakers. The point is to think about each other! Are you making a genuine effort to enrich your friendships in the church? Do you hold up your end of these precious relationships?
Again, learn from our golden sister: realizing that she hasn’t been a good friend to her Christian family is very sad. It’s a regret. Will you take the necessary vaccines to avoid this future pain– today? Lord willing, we will live into our golden years. How will we answer if we are asked about our regrets? We want to live today so that we will have very few regrets tomorrow.
But what if you’re already there? What if you’re in your golden years, and you have some of these regrets right now? Is all hope lost? No, ma’am! God’s Word helps us in every circumstance. Here is your prescription for healing from the sting of regret.
As with any sin, a Christian first needs to repent, confess, and ask for God’s forgiveness. God has given you a marvelous gift: the opportunity to change how you relate to Him and to His people.
Next, live as if you are forgiven. Thank God for His mercy and don’t dwell on your past mistakes. God has promised to forgive, and He keeps His promises!
Finally, use your past to help others. Counsel others who may be heading toward the land of regrets. Do this with love and with patience. Maybe your children are following in your footsteps. Tell them how you came to regret some of your choices, and that you don’t want them to experience the same feelings. Take some young ladies under your wing; you can be a shining light in their lives. Start today!
I hope you will take the warnings from our golden sister, and avoid these types of regrets by vaccinating yourself. Immerse yourself in the God’s Word and in prayer! Make friends of God’s children!
Someday, we will reach our true Golden Years, where we will walk the street of gold. In that great city, there will be no weeping, no death . . . no regrets.
Won’t it be wonderful there?
Other Lessons in This Series:
An Ounce of Prevention (Part 1)
By Jennifer Jensen
Jennifer lives in sunny California. She is married to a Gospel preacher and homeschools her two teenaged daughters.
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