How many times have you said “I wish” retrospectively? It is inevitably a pensive expression of regret.
Perhaps you could have done it differently – the could have’s, might have’s, and should have’s. They say hindsight is 20/20 vision. However what good is it unless you learn something from it and let it impact the way you do going forward? Do not live in regrets and depression.
Let us learn from Paul when he wrote the following:
2 Corinthians 7:8-10
For though I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it–for I see that that letter caused you sorrow, though only for a while– I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.
Paul had confronted the Corinthians for their questioning his apostolic authority. .This is what is commonly referred to as “tough love,” a love that dares to discipline, dares to weep over the pain inflicted and dares to rejoice at the prospect of reconciliation and a better future secured for one’s child. Paul went through this struggle in writing his severe letter to the Corinthians (2:4). And now when he is told of the grief that it caused the church, his first response is regret.
However, he heard how they turned around and repented and no longer was he in regret.
What exactly led to his change of heart?
– the Corinthians’ sorrow lasted only for a little while (v. 8). They were not pained for any extended period of time, and so no permanent damage to the relationship occurred.
– God’s hand was evident in the church’s response. They had become sorrowful as God intended (v. 9). The kind of sorrow that God intends results in a change of heart: Your sorrow led you to repentance (v. 9).
– The Corinthians did not merely regret what they had done but repented of it. The Corinthians, when confronted with their failure to defend Paul in the face of his detractors, felt sorry for the pain they had caused him. This is remorse. But repentance goes further. It not only recognizes the wrong committed but also seeks to rectify it. This the Corinthians did by admitting their blame and by punishing the offender (2:6; 7:11).
– the church was not harmed in any way by the severity of his letter
It is only natural to experience pain and feel hurt when someone rebukes us for a perceived wrongdoing. And while we feel pain, it is what we do with our pain that counts. The Corinthians, despite their other failings, responded in a very mature fashion to Paul’s rebuke.
To be sure, they were hurt by what Paul said in his letter to them. But they did not allow their hurt to deepen into bitterness and resentment. Instead, they were able to get past their hurt to see that the rebuke rang true and that they needed to change their ways (v. 9). This is godly sorrow–one that recognizes the wrong committed and then does everything within its power to repair the damage. Simply put, godly sorrow is constructive.
It is worth regretting? Only if it leads to godly sorrow, acknowledging the wrong and repairing it.
Constructive sorrow is the kind of sorrow that leads to salvation and leaves no regret (v. 10).