Regret & Discernment
The Aftermath- Lesson 8 of the “Overcome” Christian Addiction Recovery Guide
We all make mistakes, some worse than others. However, the tragedy is when we make mistakes that could have been avoided. Feelings such as regret, shame and guilt often accompany this type of mistake. The best way to judge such decisions is by observing the outcome, what it produced, destroyed, solved or created. Did it result in failure or success? Working backwards we can gauge the validity and motivation for many decisions we make, and whether it produced the intended outcome. Follow along in this lesson of the “Overcome” Christian addiction recovery guide to learn more about making decisions without regret or shame.
Decisions, decisions, decisions. I’m sure we have all made decisions we have immediately regretted. Most of these decisions, I would wager, have been made in the heat of the moment when emotions were high. Was the situation appraised logically or was it based on feeling? Did we know better, as my grandmother used to say, but just didn’t do better, even though we have seen the outcome at least a dozen times or more? Hangovers, arguments and knee-jerk reactions come to mind.
Many individuals I have worked with in the past quantify their sobriety in years, months and days. However, whether it was their first or hundredth attempt, many measure their recovery in hours. This observation, along with observing myself, has led me to the following statement:
Regret will always follow the decision to rebel.
The context of the following scripture is Paul writing to the church in Philippi when he was imprisoned for his spiritual beliefs. He could have chosen to conform and keep his head low, but he didn’t. He chose to do what was right even though it cost him his freedom and eventually his life. By human accounts, this could be considered a bad decision. Thankfully for us, God is divine and at the wheel, not a human.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.Philippians 1:6
Before we go any further, I want to delineate the difference between guilt and shame using another of my grandmother’s sayings. Are you sorry you did it, or sorry you got caught? Guilt is sorry for doing it, shame is sorry you got caught. Guilt is Godly conviction, shame is not. Regret and remorse are products of disobedient decisions. It is when we go against that still, small voice that helps and instructs us. Some call it a conscience, I call it the Holy Spirit.
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.John 14:16-17
The more you listen to that little voice, the louder it gets. The less you listen, the more silent it becomes. It’s the idea of whatever you feed is going to grow. The good news is that we don’t have to stay in this state of regret. Even when Adam and Eve were dealing with their regret, God was preparing a plan. We do things we will regret because it is part of our sin nature. We love to do something we have been told not to do. Shame has been just as responsible for relapses as has pride. Regret is a breeding ground for creating a perpetual cycle of self-loathing, in which we tune out that little voice that says come back.
Embrace the Process
With the price being high for regrettable decisions, we have to first understand what it is we are risking. Some poor decisions are recoverable. Some are not. We risk hurting ourselves and those we love. To do this, we go back to a section of the verse in Philippians, He who began a good work in you. There is a context of progression here. A process of God refining your character. It is the same sort of progression that is identified in the following verse:
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.1 Corinthians 13:11
Discernment is accepting Godly counsel and statues for proper living. It starts off small and grows larger. Like a masterpiece that God is painting, you are an investment of love. Learning to make decisions that you won’t regret is a large part of the good work Paul speaks of. When you come to Christ, He begins the transformation process, a good work.
We define discernment the way the Hebrews and Greeks did, the idea of considering and examining. Discernment is asking what will this decision cost me or others? It is fighting the urge to react. It’s the idea of making decisions you won’t regret. Not being driven by desires or emotions and having to pay the price for failure. The goal is not to do something stupid today, that I will have to pay for tomorrow.
The “Overcome” Christian Addiction Recovery Guide
Application – 1 Simple Statement
We will finish out our topic with a contrast of two of Jesus’ disciples. One of them made a horrific decision and chose not to deal with it, the other made an equally horrible decision, but addressed it. One committed suicide because of remorse, the other repented and received grace.
Judas betrayed Jesus for some money. He listened to Satan and allowed a poor decision to lead to regret, which ultimately resulted in him taking his own life:
And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself.Matthew 27:5
Peter on the other hand was adamant that he would never betray or deny Jesus. To which Jesus responded by telling him that he would in fact do so. After experiencing this heartbreak and repenting, Peter would become the rock on which Jesus built His church.
And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.Mark 14:72
Discernment is not just about knowing better, it is about acting accordingly. Through repentance, God develops our character and carries on a good work. It is about obedience and striving to do better, not stay in the same rut. Just because we have made bad decisions, does not mean we continue making them. Which leads us to our one simple statement:
If regret doesn’t lead to repentance, it will only lead to remorse.
The “Overcome” Addiction Bible Study is part of the discipleship program at First Contact Ministries in Hendersonville, NC.
Did you miss the other lessons in this series? Click see the entire Overcome Christian Addiction Recovery Guide series.
We always look forward to meeting new people at our Tuesday night support group meetings at 6:30 pm, located at Mud Creek Church in Hendersonville, NC. Our classes are designed to teach biblical principles for addiction recovery through discipleship. Our goal is to show the love of Jesus by supporting those who need it most.
For more information or to purchase “The Resistance” by Josh Staton to use as a Christian leadership book, or curriculum for an addiction recovery class, please visit: The Resistance: Becoming A Servant Leader Through the Beatitudes Christian Leadership Book