May 8: Beyond Regret
Judges 13:1–14:20; Philippians 3:12–4:1; Psalm 69:1–17
I’ve excelled at regret. When I’ve dwelt on the wrongs I committed against other people and my offensive rebellion against God, I lost my focus. It’s difficult to be confident in our righteousness through Christ when we go through these periods.
In Philippians 3:12–14, Paul offers both hope and advice for these times based on his own experience: “But I do one thing, forgetting the things behind and straining toward the things ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Paul looks forward to being with God in fullness and experiencing the fruits of his labor for the gospel, so he presses “toward the goal.” He emphasizes that we need to forget the “things behind.” Paul would have known the need for this. As a zealous Pharisee, he had persecuted the early church, counting himself the foremost of sinners (1 Tim 1:15).
Does forgetting imply that we act as if our failures never occurred? Not necessarily. We should seek forgiveness from others whenever possible. But it’s dangerous to dwell on the failures—to live in regret. In fact, we belittle Christ’s sacrifice if we purposefully or knowingly live in fear and guilt. He has paid for our sins and given us new life, and that means handing over our imperfections for Him to bear.
Paul swiftly moves from forgetting to “straining toward the things ahead, [he says,] I press on” (Phil 3:14). We are called to a new life in Christ, and this should be our focus. We will experience this, and we will know the complete fulfillment of this reality when He comes again. In the meantime, we can move forward without being crippled by our sins.
How are you caught up in your past mistakes? How can you seek help from God during these times while trusting in His forgiveness?
REBECCA VAN NOORD
- But the children of Israel continued to commit wickedness in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord delivered them into the hands of the Philistines forty years. Then there was a man in Zorah of the family of the Danites named Manoah, whose wife was barren, and bare not. And the Angel of the Lord appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son. And now therefore beware that thou drink no wine, nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing. For lo, thou shalt conceive and bear a son, and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazirite unto God from his birth: and he shall begin to save Israel out of the hands of the Philistines. Then the wife came and told her husband, saying, A man of God came unto me, and the fashion of him was like the fashion of the Angel of God exceedingly fearful, but I asked him not whence he was, neither told he me his name, But he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive and bear a son, and now thou shalt drink no wine nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from his birth to the day of his death. Then Manoah prayed the Lord, and said, I pray thee, my Lord, let the man of God, whom thou sentest, come again now unto us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child when he is born. And God heard the voice of Manoah, and the Angel of God came again unto the wife, as she sat in the field, but Manoah her husband was not with her. And the wife made haste and ran, and showed her husband, and said unto him, Behold, the man hath appeared unto me, that came unto me today. And Manoah arose and went after his wife, and came to the man, and said unto him, Art thou the man that spakest unto the woman? and he said, Yea. Then Manoah said, Now let thy saying come to pass: but how shall we order the child and do unto him? And the Angel of the Lord said unto Manoah, The woman must beware of all that I said unto her. She may eat of nothing that cometh of the vine tree: she shall not drink wine nor strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing: let her observe all that I have commanded her. Manoah then said unto the Angel of the Lord, I pray thee, let us retain thee, until we have made ready a kid for thee. And the Angel of the Lord said unto Manoah, Though thou make me abide, I will not eat of thy bread, and if thou wilt make a burn offering, offer it unto the Lord: for Manoah knew not that it was an Angel of the Lord. Again Manoah said unto the Angel of the Lord, What is thy name, that when thy saying is come to pass, we may honor thee? And the Angel of the Lord said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, which is secret? Then Manoah took a kid with a meat offering, and offered it upon a stone unto the Lord: and the Angel did wondrously, while Manoah and his wife looked on. For when the flame came up toward heaven from the altar, the Angel of the Lord ascended up in the flame of the altar, and Manoah and his wife beheld it, and fell on their faces unto the ground. (So the Angel of the Lord did no more appear unto Manoah and his wife.) Then Manoah knew that it was an Angel of the Lord. And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God. But his wife said unto him, If the Lord would kill us, he would not have received a burn offering, and a meat offering of our hands, neither would be have showed us all these things, nor would now have told us any such. And the wife bore a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the Lord blessed him. And the Spirit of the Lord began to strengthen him in the host of Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol. Now Samson went down to Timnah, and saw a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines, And he came up and told his father and his mother and said, I have seen a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore give me her to wife. Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a wife among the daughters of thy brethren, and among all my people, that thou must go to take a wife of a the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Give me her, for she pleaseth me well. But his father and his mother knew not that it came of the Lord, that he should seek an occasion against the Philistines: for at that time the Philistines reigned over Israel. Then went Samson, and his father and his mother down to Timnah, and came to the vineyard of Timnah: and behold, a young lion roared upon him. And the spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he tare him, as one should have rent a kid, and had nothing in his hand, neither told he his father nor his mother what he had done. And he went down, and talked with the woman which was beautiful in the eyes of Samson. And within a few days, when he returned to receive her, he went aside to see the carcass of the lion: and behold, there was a swarm of bees, and honey in the body of the lion. And he took thereof in his hands, and went eating, and came to his father and to his mother, and gave unto them, and they did eat: but he told not them, that he had taken the honey out of the body of the lion. And he took thereof in his hands, and went eating, and came to his father and to his mother, and gave unto them, and they did eat: but he told not them, that he had taken the honey out of the body of the lion. So his father went down unto the woman, and Samson made there a feast: for so used the young men to do. And when they saw him, they brought thirty companions to be with him. Then Samson said unto them, I will now put forth a riddle unto you: and if you can declare it to me within seven days of the feast, and find it out, I will give you thirty sheets, and thirty change of garments. But if you cannot declare it me, then shall ye give me thirty sheets and thirty change of garments. And they answered him, Put forth thy riddle, that we may hear it. And he said unto them, Out of the eater came meat, and out of the strong came sweetness: and they could not in three days expound the riddle. And when the seventh day was come, they said unto Samson’s wife, Entice thine husband that he may declare us the riddle, lest we burn thee and thy father’s house with fire. Have ye called us to possess us? it it not so? And Samson’s wife wept before him, and said, Surely thou hatest me, and lovest me not: for thou hast put forth a riddle unto the children of my people, and hast not told it me. And he said unto her, Behold, I have not told it my father nor my mother, and shall I tell it thee? Then Samson’s wife wept before him seven days, while their feast lasted, and when the seventh day came, he told her, because she was importunate upon him: so she told the riddle to the children of her people. And the men of the city said unto him the seventh day before the sun went down, What is sweeter than honey? and what is stronger than a Lion? Then said he unto them, If ye had not plowed with my heifer, ye had not found out my riddle. And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon, and slew thirty men of them and spoiled them, and gave change of garments unto them, which expounded the riddle: and his wrath was kindled, and he went up to his father’s house. Then Samson’s wife was given to his companion, whom he had used as his friend. Judges 13:1-14:20
- Not as though I had already attained to it, either were already perfect: but I follow, if that I may comprehend that for whose sake also I am comprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself, that I have attained to it, but one thing I do: I forget that which is behind, and endeavor myself unto that which is before, And follow hard toward the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore as many as be perfect [mature]*, be thus minded: and if ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even the same unto you. Nevertheless, in that whereunto we are come, let us proceed by one rule, that we may mind one thing. Brethren, be followers of me, and look on them, which walk so, as ye have us for an example. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ. Whose end is damnation, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is to their shame, which mind earthly things. But our conversation is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Savior, even the Lord Jesus Christ, Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working, whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. Philippians 3:12-4:1
- Save me, O God: for the waters are entered even to my soul. I stick fast in the deep mire, where no stay is: I am come into deep waters, and the streams run over me. I am weary of crying: my throat is dry: mine eyes fail, while I wait for my God. They that hate me without a cause, are more than the hairs of mine head: they that would destroy me, and are mine enemies falsely, are mighty, so that I restored that which I took not. O God, thou knowest my foolishness, and my faults are not hid from thee. Let not them that trust in thee, O Lord God of hosts, be ashamed for me: let not those that seek thee, be confounded through me, O God of Israel. For thy sake have I suffered reproof: shame hath covered thy face. I am become a stranger unto my brethren, even an alien unto my mother’s sons. For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me, and the rebukes of them that rebuked thee, are fallen upon me. I wept and my soul fasted, but that was to my reproof. I wept and my soul fasted, but that was to my reproof. I put on a sack also: and I became a proverb unto them. They that sat in the gate, spake of me, and the drunkards sang of me. But Lord, I make my prayer unto thee in an acceptable time, even in the multitude of thy mercy: O God, hear me in the truth of thy salvation. Deliver me out of the mire, that I sink not: let me be delivered swallow me up: and let not the pit shut her mouth upon me. Hear me, O Lord, for thy loving-kindness is good: turn unto me according to the multitudes of thy tender mercies. And hide not thy face from thy servant, for I am in trouble; make haste and hear me. Psalm 69:1-17