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Copyright July 1, 2017 by Robert Wayne Atkins, P.E.
All Rights Reserved.
All Scripture Verses are from the New International Version of the Holy Bible.


As we gradually age we sometimes look back on our lives and we may remember three different types of events from our past:

1. Happy times that we truly enjoyed.
2. Tragedies that we lived through.
3. Things that we regret doing.

The purpose of this article is to look more closely at the things that we regret doing when we were younger.

Past Regrets

The topic of regret can include a multitude of different things, such as something we purchased that we wish we hadn't, or someplace we went and we wish we hadn't, or something we said or did and we wish we hadn't.

I would like to briefly discuss the topic of things that we said or things that we did that hurt another person in some way.

A normal person who has not gradually turned off their own conscience, and who still understands the moral concept of right and wrong, and who can still feel remorse and sorrow for their past actions will usually not be able to forgive himself or herself for things that he or she did that hurt another person even though they may be a Christian and they know that God has already forgiven them through their faith in Jesus Christ. A person with a conscience carries the weight of their previous misdeeds in their heart for their entire life.

Man Crying When we first realize that we have hurt another person, either intentionally or accidentally, it is not uncommon for us to shed tears because we are aware of the pain we have caused and we wish we had never done what we did. In the future each time we think about the event the tears will usually start flowing again because we sincerely regret the pain that we caused the other person.

As we grow in the Christian faith we eventually realize that we didn't just hurt another person -- we hurt a child of the living God. This is the second stage of regret and it begins when we realize we hurt one of God's precious children. And the age of the other person doesn't matter -- the person could be a child, a teenager, a young adult, an older adult, or a senior adult in his or her last years of life. The person is still a child of God and he or she is still dearly beloved of God. When this realization first dawns on us then the tears begin to flow again because we have a deeper understanding of what we have done and our sorrow increases because we realize we have injured one of God's precious children.

As we continue to mature in the Christian faith then we eventually realize that we didn't just hurt a child of God -- we hurt Jesus Christ himself. Jesus told us the following:

When the implications of the above scriptures penetrate into our hearts then the tears start flowing like they have never flowed before. And our sorrow reaches a new level of intensity and we collapse under the weight of what we have done to our precious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But this is a good thing because when we reach this third level of regret then most of us decide that we are going to be as careful and considerate and thoughtful as we can for the rest of our lives so that we do not hurt Jesus again. Each one of us will still occasional fail but those failures should be trivial and few and far between.

Jesus also said the following:
The above verses tell of Saul's journey from Jerusalem to Damascus. On the road to Damascus Saul met the immortal Jesus and Jesus asked Saul the following question: "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" Jesus did not ask: "Why do persecute my followers (or my children)?" Instead Jesus specifically asked: "Why do you persecute me?"

The reason I wrote this article is to encourage you if you have reached the third stage of regret where you realize that when you hurt one of God's children then you are hurting Jesus Christ himself. Although none of us can undo the things we have done in the past, each one of us can strive to behave more like Jesus in the future and we can have true heartfelt compassion for other people, regardless of who they are or what they have done to us. Please remember what Jesus said as He died on the cross:

When we reach the third stage of regret then we can begin to forgive completely, totally, and with genuine compassion. This is the hidden benefit of the third state of regret.


After writing the above article I realized I needed to briefly mention what forgiveness does include and what forgiveness does not include. This is the most difficult part of this article for me to write because I do not wish reduce the importance of forgiveness and at the same time I do not wish to over emphasize forgiveness above other Christian virtues.

Let's briefly consider the following three hypothetical scenarios:
  1. Someone accidentally and unintentionally does something that hurts someone else.
  2. Someone acts in a careless and thoughtless manner and someone else is hurt.
  3. Someone deliberately and intentionally does something that hurts someone else.
In all three of the above situations forgiveness is not optional. However, as Christians we need to understand that there is a difference between forgiveness and discipline. Forgiveness is not optional but discipline may sometimes be optional. If discipline is appropriate then it should be tempered based on the specific circumstances.

As parents, or as grandparents, we need to teach our children and our grandchildren the difference between right and wrong. And that may occasionally require that we discipline the ones we love. But we also need to forgive them for whatever they have done.

Forgiveness does not replace discipline. If discipline is appropriate then the type and amount of discipline requires good judgment.

Discipline does not replace forgiveness. The two need to exist together. But discipline should be carefully administered because the purpose of discipline should be to benefit the individual being disciplined so that the individual can learn that offensive behavior is not acceptable.


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