Whether you had a good year, or a bad one, an eventful one, or a forgettable one, there is a high probability that there are some days, maybe even weeks, which you regret. The ending of the year (let alone a decade) can bring to some of us a whole host of regrets.
You find yourself beset by a sin which you want to be rid of. You wrecked a relationship––seemingly beyond repair. You fell far short of your goals. You’re not who you wanted to be. You broke promises. You stumbled terribly. You make mess of things at school, or work, or family.
Dwell too long on such things, and you’ll soon find yourself keeping company with the demon regret. Regret is the devil’s version of repentance. Feel bad. Have dark, gloomy, brooding emotions. Wallow in a sense of not-quite-guilt, but not-quite-sorrow. However, regret isn’t the same as repentance. It is faux-repentance.
Regret sits at the train station watching the train you should be on pull out. It waves a melancholy farewell, sighs, and then shuffles onto the wrong train. Repentance, on the other hand, isn’t an idle train-watcher. When once it realizes it’s on the wrong train, it races to catch the right train.
Regret will maybe acknowledge failures; but confess them as sin, forsake them, overcome them? Never. But repentance sees sin for what it is, grieves it, confesses it, and by the Spirit, labors to mortify sin and vivify righteousness. Get off the wrong train, and get on the right one. So don’t spend the final days of this decade in regret. Repent of your sins, and get busy with what God has called you to: righteousness, holiness, and the fear of the Lord.
If you’ve fellowshipped too long and too often with the melancholy demon of regret, it’s time for a break up. Or if you’ve invited him to live in your basement, so that on really hard days you can have something to commiserate with, it’s time to kick him to the curb. Regret will never ask you to forsake your vices and sins. It will never rebuke you. It will never startle you out of your selfishness.
So, ask God to forgive you for turning your ear to enjoy the sob song of regret, rather than hearing and heeding the Word of the Gospel and repenting. Rather than a world sorrow which leads to more and more regret, ask God to give you a godly sorrow which leads to true repentance and faith.