God’s guidelines can help us live with fewer regrets

Life’s seasons are short and swift.

June reminds me of this; it’s a month of weddings and graduations, fresh starts and long-awaited endings.

When we come to the end of one of life’s seasons, we want to look back on it and see that it really mattered. We want that satisfied sense that time didn’t just pass, but that we actually spent time and energy on that which matters most.

Happily, God gives us the wisdom we need to live in such a way that we have fewer regrets at the end of life’s seasons.

Here’s what God tells us:

• Embrace life as an opportunity to serve and please God, not ourselves.

The Bible tells us to “…work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” (Colossians 3:24 – NLT)

We were created to serve and please God, yet we’re strongly tempted to order our lives as through we’re the star of the show. Narcissism, it seems, is the prevailing addiction of our culture; its mantra is “me” and “mine.”

God’s word tells us our greatest satisfaction and contentment in life comes from knowing we did right by him, then other people, rather than serving ourselves.

• Embrace a forbearing, forgiving spirit.

Because life is short, it’s tragic to waste it on bitterness toward those who’ve hurt or disappointed us.

God never tells us that our hurt doesn’t matter, or to “get over it already.” But he does invite us to extend the same forgiveness he’s graciously and mercifully given us when he sent Jesus Christ to die on a cross to pay the penalty for our sin:

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32 – NIV)

• Embrace opportunities to say the right things.

Most of us know the regret of failing to tell someone that we love them, or to thank them for their kindness. Many parents know the regret of failing to warn someone away from poor choices.

Paul, the apostle, came to the end of a season in life when he left his church at Ephesus and embarked on a journey to Jerusalem. Before he left, he told the elders of the church: “I never shrank back from telling you what you needed to hear …” (Acts 20:20 – NLT)

So often we shrink back in fear when we have opportunities to say what really needs to be said to another person. We fear their reaction; we fear what they’ll think about us.

Christians do well to consider Paul’s secret to living without regret. He was an ambassador for Jesus Christ who took advantage of the opportunities God gave him to share truth with others.

• Embrace a grateful attitude.

It takes no effort or wisdom to find things to complain about or criticize. Ingratitude is the natural state of those who are not rightly related to God.

It’s a disease with severe consequences: Our nation’s economic struggle is largely the result of Americans’ inability to be grateful for what they have, always wanting more.

Grateful, content people make a difference in the world around them.

Do you have regrets as you look back at life’s past seasons? Me, too. Praise God for the wisdom he’s given us to live with fewer regrets.

Moses considered the shortness of his life, and desperately desired to live with fewer regrets. May his prayer in Psalm 90:12 also be ours: “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.”

Steve Massey is the pastor of Hayden Bible Church in Hayden, Idaho (www.haydenbible.org). He can be reached at (208) 772-2511 or steve@haydenbible.org.

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